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A Look at The Vaccination Mandate for Employees – Is It Legal?

When the world was engulfed in a pandemic threatening to take millions of lives and force the world into isolation, everyone cried for a solution. However, now that vaccine distribution is at large, vaccination rates in the US paint a bleak picture. Researchers who hoped that herd immunity would wipe the virus away once and for all are now realizing that not enough people have been vaccinated to fend off the delta variant of the virus.

Pexels | Globally, hundreds of thousands of people continue to contract the virus

At this stage, the federal government and many employees are making vaccinations a requirement. In light of this sudden pressure, a question hangs in the air for many: is the vaccine mandate legal?

Apparently, the answer to that is yes.

The Vaccination Mandate for Employees

According to the University of California Hastings College of the Law professor Dorit Reiss, employers are responsible for providing a safe workplace for workers. They hold the right to set workplace conditions that best suit their employees in light of this responsibility.

July marked the Department of Veteran Affairs as the first federal body to demand a vaccine shot from their employees. It wasn’t long before POTUS Joe Biden followed suit and called for federal employees to either undergo regular testing and mitigation measures or to attest that they received the vaccine.

Pexels | In both California and New York, being vaccinated against the virus or getting weekly tests is now a requirement for government employees

Additionally, though enforcement methods aren’t clear as such, multinationals like Facebook and Google have outlined rules for workers returning to a normal office routine. Whether they ask for a pledge or proof of vaccination is up to the company. Alternatively, some employers have set up a weekly testing service for workers unwilling to get vaccinated to ensure that the workplace remains safe.

Limitations to the Mandate

Reiss also mentions that the mandate has certain limitations, including

  • workers citing religious grounds under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – under this act, workers must be accommodated if they object to a workplace rule. They might be asked to work remotely in such a case.
  • workers protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 – the act requires that employers must accommodate cases that do not cause any “undue hardships”. Said person can then perhaps stick to testing and wearing a mask.
  • workers union requiring negotiations and communion – in such cases, collective bargaining agreements are necessary before any rules are imposed.

Unsplash | Employees with exception from the vaccine will have to follow precautionary measures

Wrapping It Up

With the situation increasingly getting out of hand despite there being a viable challenge to the virus, federal governments and companies had no choice but to impose stricter measures to ensure safety and a rapid return to normalcy.

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