Can your employer make the COVID-19 vaccine a requirement?

Marshall County

Marshall County, W.Va. (WTRF) –

“An employer can ask you if you’ve been vaccinated. An employer can ask for proof of vaccination.  They can ask for your vaccination card.  That’s a perfectly legitimate question.” 

Diana Crutchfield – Attorney

Simply said, your employer can ask you if you’ve been vaccinated without violating HIPAA. 

Attorney Diana Crutchfield also said they can make it a requirement.  

“An employer can keep you from coming to work if you haven’t been vaccinated if there’s a legitimate reason for requiring that type of vaccination.” 

Diana Crutchfield – Attorney

She said it could cross the line if your employer asked why you aren’t vaccinated, as it could step further into your medical history and privacy. 

If your employer chooses to require vaccination and you choose not to do so, they should try to provide you with accommodations. 

“They would be required to reasonably accommodate you if they could.  Let you work from home, let you work in an isolated setting.” 

Diana Crutchfield – Attorney

This could also be as simple as requiring a mask.  

We hear a lot about religious and philosophical exemptions, but it will take more than just stating you fall under one. 

“There are health exceptions, that’s under the ADA, and there are religious exceptions.  Those are very limited, very difficult to establish those exceptions.” 

Diana Crutchfield – Attorney

What if you simply don’t believe in a vaccine? 

“You just don’t believe in them for whatever philosophical reason, that’s not enough for an exception to the requirement to be vaccinated that an employer can have.” 

Diana Crutchfield – Attorney

…and if this sounds like discrimination, that is not true either.  

“The EEOC has said pretty strongly that it is not generally discriminatory to request information regarding vaccination status or proof of the same.”  

Diana Crutchfield – Attorney

However, this could all change if your state government decides to pass their own laws. 

“States might change that.  They can give you more rights than the federal government does.” 

Diana Crutchfield – Attorney

With everything said, you can always choose not to share your vaccination status, but employers may assume that means you have not received the COVID-19 vaccine.  

Overall, you employer is within their rights under federal law to ask if you have been vaccinated, and to require one with limited exceptions. 

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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