Employers can bar unvaccinated employees from the workplace, EEOC says

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Dec 16th that employers are entitled — and required — to ensure a safe workplace in which “an individual shall not pose a direct threat to the health or safety of individuals in the workplace.” That can mean a company requiring its workforce to be vaccinated.

There are certain restrictions on employers. Workers can reject vaccinations based on religious, health or philosophical objections. According to a recent article in the National Law Review, the Americans with Disabilities Act limits vaccine requirements to those that are “job-related, consistent with business necessity or justified by a direct threat, and no broader or more intrusive than necessary.”

While many people are eager to protect themselves against a virus that has infected 17 million Americans and killed more than 300,000, others remain skeptical, according to multiple news reports.

New polls suggest that nearly half of Americans would not take a coronavirus vaccine. Many of them cited concerns about how quickly the vaccines were developed and did not want to be among the first to receive an experiment inoculation.

With so many people reluctant to be vaccinated, it has raised questions about whether the shots will be mandatory.

An employer could down the road mandate that an employee get the vaccine. According to Bob Harris, an attorney with Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP, it would uphold in Ohio courts.

“It’s generally lawful to make a vaccine mandatory,” said Harris. “We’re in an emergency situation, we have a pandemic. An employer is entitled to do whatever it thinks is best and most appropriate to keep its workplace safe.”

Employers can also demand their workers to be vaccinated within reason, according to OSHA. The agency has a list of vaccinations employers can require, including hepatitis, tuberculosis, measles, mumps and rubella. In 2009, it added the flu vaccine to its list.

“Some employers might say we’re going to terminate, some may say we’ll give you a leave of absence unpaid, that whole spectrum of options is available to an employer,” said Harris.