Mandatory Vaccination Programs in the Workplace

On Thursday, March 12th, The Noble Law’s associate employment attorney, Evan Dancy, appeared on WRAL to explain the legal implications of mandatory vaccination programs in the workplace.

Gerald Owens: Can your employer require you to get the COVID vaccine once it’s widely available? It’s an issue that prompts strong emotions from a lot of people. WRAL’s Amanda Lamb looked into this earlier today. Here’s what she found out about the legal ramifications and the potential incentives.

Amanda Lamb: 97-year-old Ann Howe has not been out to lunch with her friends in a year, but now she is vaccinated and so is the majority of the staff at this restaurant.

How does it feel to be able to go out to a restaurant?

Ann Howe: Oh God, it feels wonderful!

Jason Smith: I would say half of us have gotten our first shot or the J&J shot.

Lamb: Restaurant owner Jason Smith is not requiring the vaccine for his employees, but he’s strongly encouraging it.

Smith: My staff wants to slow the spread of the virus and they know this is an easy way to do it.

Lamb: We got dozens of responses on Facebook from people who don’t think employers should require it, but John Mitterling, who works with the Chapel Hill nonprofit called Voices Together that promotes learning through music therapy has no problem with being told he must get it.

John Mitterling: I’ve gotten the first vaccine, and I’m going to get the second vaccine on April the 5th. I feel we should all get it.

School Staff: They go into school, so we are going to ask for proof of vaccination. We are going to do that.

Evan Dancy: An employer can have a mandatory vaccination program, and that this is not prohibited, but there are a lot of legal nuances.

Lamb: Labor attorney Evan Dancy says while it will be legal for companies to require a COVID vaccine in the future, they should be prepared for challenges.

Dancy: Based on recent polling, I think about 20-30% of Americans have said that if they were required to take a vaccine, they might leave their company. So, I think that should be a consideration for employers that if they’re going to make it mandatory, they might lose part of their workforce.

Owens: That was Amanda Lamb reporting. Dancy told Amanda if companies require the vaccine, under law, they will still have to make accommodations for people with certain disabilities who can’t take it, people who are against it for religious reasons, and pregnant women.

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