Employers Can Legally Fire People Refusing COVID Vaccine, New Guidelines Show
Employers are now authorized and required to ensure their workplace is safe
According to legal guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, employers across the United States have been granted the legal authority to require their employees to get the new COVID-19 vaccine.
Employers are now authorized and required to ensure their workplace is safe, where “an individual shall not pose a direct threat to the health or safety of individuals in the workplace," according to new guidelines.
According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, several factors can influence whether an employer can require vaccinations.
The employer has proved it is necessary for the job, which usually includes those working in high-risk environments or a “direct threat,” according to Community Legal Services’ Rhiannon DiClemente.
Employers will also be affected by some state retractions on vaccines.
If employees refuse vaccination, they have to take several steps to accommodate the request.
“Employers will need to determine if any other rights apply under the EEO laws or other federal, state, and local authorities,” the EEOC guidelines read.
According to the EEOC, employers requiring their workers to get the vaccine does not violate Americans with Disabilities because some do not require a medical exam to receive the vaccination.
If employees have a disability or “sincerely held” beliefs that prevent them from getting the vaccine, they also may be exempt.
“If they do require it, an employee can request an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act or Title VII,” Helen Rella, a workplace attorney, told CBS News.
“If they do request the accommodation, the employer has an obligation to see if accommodation is possible.”
Accommodations include giving employees the option to work from home.
If that cannot be made, employers can exclude unvaccinated employees from entering the workplace, “but this does not mean the employer may automatically terminate the worker,” according to the EEOC
“At some point, if they are on job-protected unpaid leave, that might rise to the level of undue hardship," Sharon Masling, a workplace attorney at Morgan Lewis and former chief of staff to an EEOC commissioner, told CBS News.
"But it would be on a case-by-case basis."
“The logical conclusion is that if no possible accommodation can be made and the employee’s job requires that they be in the physical workplace — and they pose a direct threat to the safety of the workplace or others — that yes, they could be terminated,” Rella said.