Can Employers Require COVID-19 Vaccinations?

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As the rollout of the two current FDA-approved vaccines for COVID-19 takes place, many employers may be looking toward reopening offices for vaccinated employees. Can an employer require employees to be vaccinated as a requirement to return to the office? Jackson Walker attorneys Sarah Mitchell Montgomery and Sara Harris discuss this issue.

Traditionally, U.S. courts have upheld vaccination requirements for work in the past, but as with all things COVID-related, this issue is novel. The Equal Employment See more +

As the rollout of the two current FDA-approved vaccines for COVID-19 takes place, many employers may be looking toward reopening offices for vaccinated employees. Can an employer require employees to be vaccinated as a requirement to return to the office? Jackson Walker attorneys Sarah Mitchell Montgomery and Sara Harris discuss this issue.

Traditionally, U.S. courts have upheld vaccination requirements for work in the past, but as with all things COVID-related, this issue is novel. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently issued guidance approving employers to require vaccinations, but there were key exceptions based on the American's with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. There are also other employee protections under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and exemptions for employees based on a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance.

In addition to the immediate rules, regulations, laws, and exemptions, there may be long-term risks for future tort actions based on the overall safety of these vaccines due to the current vaccines being approved under the Emergency Use Authorization. So there are many issues for employers to consider as they look to reopen workplaces and bring vaccinated and unvaccinated employees back. See less -

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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