According to legal experts, companies mandating covid 19 vaccines are not violating federal law. Employers can make it mandatory for employees to get vaccinated in the near future. However, several companies may encourage and not insist on this issue.
Chipotle Mexican Grill CEO Brian Niccol said that the company would encourage its employees to receive the covid vaccine approved by the FDA. He added that the company has no plans as of now to mandate the vaccination. The company will also cover all the associated costs for employees who wish to get vaccinated in the future.
US Laws Allow Employers To Mandate Covid 19 Vaccines
Some people initially claimed that companies that mandate vaccination are violating several federal laws. However, legal experts indicate that companies that mandate covid vaccines are not violating the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, Title VII of the civil rights act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities act of 1990 and several others.
According to new guidance released by the US Equal employment opportunity commission on December 16, employers have the legal right to mandate that employees receive covid vaccines. The provisions for employers are allowed as they can set a requirement wherein the employee shall not pose a direct threat to the health or safety of other workers in the organization. This also includes vaccines, and most people will support such moves when it comes to covid vaccines.
However, there may be some exceptions for employees with disabilities or those who have sincerely held religious beliefs. Apart from that, other categories of workers who are protected by Title VII and ADA may also get an exemption from this mandate.
The onus of proving that the unvaccinated employee poses a threat to the safety of other individuals in the workplace falls on the employer. The employer must also provide them with reasonable accommodation, and they are not allowed to terminate the employee.
Experts are of the opinion that further clarification may come from the Occupational safety and health administration which is a regulatory agency that sets the safety and health standards for organizations. The agency is yet to issue guidance on mandatory covid vaccines.
This will become an important point of discussion in the near future as more options will be available for receiving vaccines. As of now, only front line health workers and others in critical care are eligible for receiving the vaccines. Due to a shortage of supplies in the initial stages of the mass vaccination program, the health department has suggested prioritizing the vaccine distribution according to CDC guidelines.
According to the guidelines, teachers, police department workers, and other essential workers may be next in line to receive the vaccines. The next phase of mass vaccinations is likely to begin in February after the primary health workers receive the vaccines. Apart from that, the federal government is also looking to provide vaccines for elderly citizens as they are more vulnerable to catching the infection. Not only that, the elderly citizens are more likely to need hospitalization in case they get infected with covid 19. Considering this situation, it makes sense to put them ahead in the queue to receive the covid vaccines. This will reduce the number of hospitalizations due to covid 19 in the near term and lessen the load on hospitals across the country.
The federal authorities have indicated that few more vaccine manufacturers are set to apply for emergency use authorization in the next two months. After they get approval from the FDA, they will have more supplies that can give a huge boost to the vaccination program. Even Jonhson and Johnson are also in line to apply for emergency use authorization in the next few months according to sources.