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Can Your Employer Make You Get the COVID-19 Vaccine?

December 30, 2020 Workplace Discrimination

Maybe. But There Are Exceptions.

The COVID-19 vaccine is finally becoming available in the United States. But to be truly effective, a large percentage of the population has to be willing to take it.

Some people may not have a choice, however. Companies across the country are considering whether to make vaccines mandatory for their workforces—as both a safety move and good publicity.

It’s not 100% clear whether these requirements would stand up in court, and the EEOC has yet to issue specific guidelines on this issue. But existing precedent suggests that employers will be able to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine, with certain exceptions.

Here’s an overview.

Why Employers May Be Able To Mandate Vaccines

There’s a precedent for employers requiring employees to get vaccinated.

In general, all employers have the right to establish standards, policies, and requirements for the health and safety of their employees, customers, and workplaces. These standards must be necessary to the nature of the business.

In the past, this has included the ability to require flu and other types of vaccinations when appropriate.

This is most common in workplaces where employees will be interacting with vulnerable people with a high risk of complications—generally older adults, children, pregnant women, or those with compromised immune systems.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, employers have a strong case to make that requiring a vaccine would be necessary to the nature of most workplaces—especially those where employees have to interact with members of the public.

Those at particular risk of serious COVID-19 complications include older adults and those with certain pre-existing conditions. However, younger people without underlying medical conditions have also experienced severe COVID-19 symptoms—as well as “long-haul” debilitating health problems long after the initial infection.

Due to the contagiousness and unpredictability of the disease, it’s quite possible that contracting COVID-19 could put anyone at risk of serious complications.

Employers wishing to avoid public safety problems and liability issues may see a huge benefit to requiring all employees to be vaccinated just in case, and the courts may agree with them.

Employers Must Allow for Exceptions

That said, employers must allow for certain exceptions.

If you’re a union member, your union may be able to negotiate for expanded exceptions to a vaccine mandate—or secure other benefits for you in exchange for it.

If you’re not a union member, you may still have certain protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Under the ADA, employees with certain medical conditions can request to be exempted from taking a mandatory vaccine. Your employer may have to offer you a reasonable accommodation, such as working from home.

Title VII may allow you to avoid taking the vaccine as well, if taking it violates a religious tenet.

Questions About Your Employer’s Vaccine Requirement? Ask an Employment Lawyer

If you have questions about your rights when it comes to an employer’s vaccine mandate, you should ask a knowledgeable employment lawyer.

An employment lawyer can help you determine whether your rights are being violated, and whether you’re entitled to compensation.

Call us at 267-273-1054 or email us at for a free, confidential consultation today.

The information provided here does not constitute legal advice. It is intended for general purposes only. If you have questions about a specific legal issue, you should speak to an attorney.