COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths are surging to nearly unimaginable levels. Prospects for widely distributed vaccines bring some sense of hope.

Vaccine hesitancy is as real today for COVID-19 as it was for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), smallpox and other global pandemics throughout world history.

The understandable tension between getting back to work and respecting science and the realities of this most current pandemic is manifesting itself in today’s workplace.

Many employers have discussed openly that they intend to require workers to be vaccinated before returning to work or will provide access to a vaccine in the workplace. While both may be considered as good public health measures, there are complex legal issues to be considered.

We are not lawyers and we do not provide legal advice. We do, however, gladly share the informed opinions of lawyers from one of Cincinnati’s leading law firms. They and we, I am sure, agree that whatever you decide to do in your workplace needs to be reviewed by your own attorneys.

In a recent blog post titled, “Vaccination Vacillation?,” Dan Burke and Laura Caty of Graydon Law provide important guidance for employers (note: Vehr Communications includes Graydon as a client). They state:

“Private sector employers likely have the right to require that employees, especially at-will employees, receive the COVID vaccination as a condition of continued employment. Different considerations may apply for employees with formal employment agreements or who belong to a union.

“Employers who decide to adopt a mandatory employee vaccination policy must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) and other federal and state laws that may apply. Among other requirements, these laws obligate an employer to consider in good faith exceptions for employees unable to be vaccinated due to an underlying disability or based on their religious beliefs.”

Burke and Caty share this link to recent EEOC COVID-related guidance addressing employer vaccination programs (please advance to section K, “Vaccinations”).

The COVID-19 pandemic is going to get worse before it gets better. The vaccines starting to become available won’t stop the pandemic. Vaccinations will.

We believe that encouraging vaccinations within your workforce is good for your business and the community as well.