SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) – As more people are getting vaccinated and counties are moving into less restrictive colored tiers, many are asking if it’s legal for companies to require that their employees get vaccinated.
“The answer to the question is yes. The current state of the law says you can. Is it possible that a court or somebody says, ‘No, that’s an overreach, it’s a violation of people’s privacy rights, et cetera? Yes, that’s definitely a possibility,” said Mark S. Spring, an attorney with CDF Labor Law. “There’s nothing under the law that says you can’t.”
Spring says that with the current state of the law, there is nothing prohibiting employers of any size from enacting policies or practices mandating that workers get vaccinated to return to work.
“Businesses do have an obligation to create a safe workplace, in terms of their employees, to ensure their employees stay safe. And they also want to create a safe environment for their customers as well. And in order to make that happen, some businesses may consider whether they want to mandate vaccinations,” said State Senator Dr. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento.
Spring says that both the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Department of Fair Employment and Housing have similar guidelines giving a nod for employers to mandate the vaccine to return to work.
“As long as they allow for accommodation for any bonified religious beliefs that prohibit somebody from getting the vaccine,” Spring said. “Or any disability or medical condition that might qualify as a disability to accommodate the condition that would prohibit that person from getting the vaccine.”
That includes companies refraining from retaliating against anybody who opts out of receiving the vaccine.
Spring also says there’s a moral issue at play.
“How many employees am I gonna lose – especially long-term – veteran, quality, contributing employees, because they have beliefs that maybe are not based on religion or based on disability that they just aren’t willing to get the vaccine?” Spring said.
Spring says in the legal community, they’re aware of a Seattle-based law firm, Davis Wright and Tremaine, which has mandated a policy but provides a flexible work-from-home policy, where those who don’t get vaccinated can continue to work remotely.