Can Employers Mandate Employees’ Covid-19 Vaccination?

The current emergency pandemic situation has brought fast and crucial changes in the applicable employment laws and regulations. The guidelines regarding this matter are evolving day by day, and employers must keep up to date. Employers can require their employees to get the Covid-19 vaccination as a condition of employment. However, there are specific exceptions.

An employer needs to maintain balance in the workplace when considering whether to mandate that employees receive the Covid-19 vaccine. Employers should evaluate each employee’s request to forego a vaccine separately. If you have questions or concerns about your employment, you should consult an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer.

Covid-19 Vaccination Exceptions

The Covid-19 vaccine’s long-term effects are unknown since it has been created and made available in such a short period of time. However, employers can require their employees to receive vaccinations against Covid-19 with specific exceptions.

Medical Reasons

Employees that cannot get the Covid-19 vaccination due to medical reasons can request an exception under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Religious Beliefs

Employees that Covid-19 vaccination violates their deeply held religious beliefs may also request to be exempted from vaccination due to religious objection. In such cases, employers must try to allow reasonable accommodations to these employees.

Evaluation Of Each Request Separately

An employer should assess each individual’s exception request when an employee claims that they cannot get vaccinated due to a disability or a deeply held religious belief. However, the employer will have to determine whether these exceptions pose a direct threat to their other employees’ health and safety. They are responsible for keeping their workplace safe and protecting their employees from being exposed to the virus.

If the employer cannot provide reasonable accommodation to the unvaccinated employee to reduce or eliminate a direct threat to the health and safety of their working environment, then they may exclude them from the workplace. In that case, the employer may refuse the entrance of the unvaccinated employee into the workspace. Nevertheless, this does not imply that they can terminate the employment of the employee. They should first decide if a reasonable accommodation can be provided, like working from home.

Potential Accommodations

Employees with disabilities that cannot get the Covid-19 vaccine for health reasons are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Nevertheless, if the employer can prove that the unvaccinated employees pose a direct threat to the health and safety of others in the workplace and this danger of spreading the virus to others cannot be minimized by reasonable accommodation, then they may have a base to terminate their employment.

Like with the employees who are unable to receive the Covid-19 vaccine due to medical reasons, employees who are unable to receive the Covid-19 vaccine due to their religious beliefs should be offered reasonable accommodation and protected from losing their job. However, employers are not obligated to provide religious accommodations if they can prove the burden or costs occurring from this.

The employers are responsible for thoroughly discussing and trying to find an accommodation that minimizes the risk of the virus transmission by an unvaccinated employee in the workplace. Such accommodation may be:

  • Allow the employee to work remotely
  • Allow the employee to be physically at the workplace using personal protective equipment, like a mask and gloves
  • Allow the employee to work in a remote space that is not close to the other employees.

Regardless of the above accommodation suggestions, the employer may still reject the employee’s request to be exempted if they prove significant difficulty and harm occurring by this action. In case that the implementation of such accommodation results in financial or practical damage, the request may not be accepted.

Contact A Workers Compensation Attorney

It is not against the law for an employer to require that their employees receive the Covid-19 vaccination. There is protection from the law for employees who do not want to or cannot receive the Covid-19 vaccine in specific cases. An Ohio workers compensation lawyer can inform you about the rules under which you may request an exemption to receive the vaccine and guide you through the process.

Call us today at Workers’ Compensation Lawyers firm for your free consultation. There may be situations where accommodation is not practically feasible. Each case and circumstances are different, and our team of legal experts can help you determine if your employer acted unlawfully and protect your rights.