With rising concerns about the COVID-19 delta variant spreading across the nation, many employers are requiring their employees to provide proof that they have been vaccinated or require that they wear masks and comply with routine COVID-19 testing. The U.S. Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC), as well as state and local public health authorities, have recently eased safety guidelines and recommendations for those who have been fully vaccinated. However, due to the surge of increasing COVID-19 delta variant cases, the CDC and other public health authorities have now recommended that fully vaccinated people wear masks in specific indoor establishments.
The federal government and some state and local governments require certain public employees, health care employees, and other employees who work in high-risk work environments, to show evidence of COVID-19 vaccination or take weekly COVID-19 tests, wear masks, and practice safe distancing from other employees and guests or clients.
What Are Your Rights as an Employee?
According to the CDC, the Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) do not mandate COVID-19 vaccinations nor does the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, it is the matter of state or other applicable law that determines if a state government, municipal government, or employer can require COVID-19 vaccination.
In certain circumstances, employers can require that their employees who attend the physical work site receive COVID-19 vaccination, just like other flu vaccinations.
However, in July 2021, the CDC stated that it is a matter of state or other applicable law regarding whether an employer can require or enforce COVID-19 vaccination on employees. If an employer requires employees to submit verification of COVID-19 vaccination from a pharmacy or their own healthcare provider, the employer cannot require the employee to report any medical information as part of the verification.
How the Law Protects Your Rights
Listed below are the standards an employer must meet to enforce a mandatory workplace vaccination program that protects your rights according to employment law:
- The employer must reasonably assess if an unvaccinated employee poses a safety risk. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a required workplace vaccination program must be considered “job related” and “consistent with business necessity.” This determination is based on the facts and circumstances in many aspects of the workplace and the occupation of the employee, such as the nature of the environment of the work—indoors or outdoors, and to the degree and duration in which the unvaccinated employee is in contact with others. The latest clinical data such as the statistical spread of the virus in the community must be included in the evaluation.
- The ADA requires that employers make reasonable accommodations for employees who are unable to receive COVID-19 vaccination due to a disability, including pregnancy.
- Similarly, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act permits employees who refuse to receive vaccinations based on authentic religious beliefs to receive the same reasonable accommodations from their employer.
- Employers must not apply the vaccine requirement in a way that discriminates against employees based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or genetic information, as this would violate another federal equal opportunity (EO) statute.
- Employers can question the employee regarding their status of COVID-19 vaccination as well as a requirement of proof; however, the ADA prohibits employers from asking their employees any disability-related questions or inquiries. EEOC guidelines state that COVID-19 vaccination status is not a disability-related question. The ADA states that there are several reasons why an individual did not receive the vaccination.
What Accommodations Your Job Can Make
The ADA and other relevant laws require the employer to provide accommodations as necessary. However, factors such as whether the accommodations would cause the employer disproportionate hardship, severe difficulty, or cost are also considered. Should the employer reasonably determine that an unvaccinated employee is to be a safety risk, the employer must consider if a reasonable accommodation may decrease or remove the risk. Employers can offer employees who have not been vaccinated the requirement to wear masks, undergo COVID-19 testing continuously, or be offered the choice to work remotely.
What an Los Angeles Work Place Attorney Can Do for You
The Los Angeles workforce is diverse and sometimes can be a difficult experience. Employers do not always look in the best interest of their employees. Sometimes employers break employment laws in their interest or the interest of the company. Regardless of the reason, it is unacceptable and a violation of the law and your rights as an employee. At Neal-Lopez Law Group, our team of experienced and result-driven Los Angeles employment attorneys is ready to fight for your rights. Our Los Angeles workplace lawyers are dedicated to ensuring all workplaces follow employment law. If you have any concerns or need a Los Angeles Employment Attorney, please do not hesitate to call us today.