As the COVID-19 delta variant continues to spread, more employers — particularly in the medical field — may decide to require workers to get vaccinated.
So, Can You Fire Unvaccinated Employees?
Short Answer: According to legal experts, employers may fire employees for violating COVID-19 protocols because there are no federal laws prohibiting company vaccine mandates. Under labor laws, employers have the right to set their terms and conditions of employment.
Big companies, like CNN, CVS, and United, have already let people go or announced their plans for terminations surrounding vaccination discourse. A huge question now that many companies have returned to work are whether to require employees to be vaccinated when they return. It's a tricky question considering that Covid-19 cases are, once again, on the rise.
"The EEOC has made clear that individuals can be required to take the vaccine as a term and condition of employment.
That is subject to requests for accommodation based on medical reasons or sincerely held religious belief,"
— Helen Rella, Counsel @ Wilk Auslander via CBS
A critical factor is that the you have a clear policy in place. Under most circumstances, you can require employees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus and provide you with the documentation. And yes, you can terminate them for failing to comply with your practice's policies requiring vaccination. You just need to consider medical and religious objections that are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
If you can show that your practice has a clear policy, and your employee received the policy and refused to comply — you can fire unvaccinated employees.
Employers should remember that guidance from public health authorities is likely to change as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves. Therefore, employers should continue to follow the most current information on maintaining workplace safety. This includes evolving guidance found in the CDC publication, “Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People."
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