COVID-19 Vaccinations, Employment Law and Employers’ Rights

How Should Employers Deal with COVID-19 vaccinations? COVID-19 vaccines may be something that you require of your employees, depending on the nature of your industry. It is vital that you understand your legal rights as well as your employees’ legal rights regarding this issue. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has established guidelines that can help employers understand how COVID-19 vaccinations relate to employment laws. Medical Screening and COVID-19 Vaccinations The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) prohibits employers from giving employees medical examinations, and screening questions could be considered a medical examination. Therefore, as an employer, you cannot ask your employee about medical conditions as part of screening for receiving the vaccine. However, employers can require that employees receive vaccinations to make the workplace safer. Yet some employees may have disabilities, such as potential allergic reactions, that could put them at risk for receiving the vaccine. Vaccines would not be administered to such employees. Employers can avoid medical screening by having third parties, such as doctors or pharmacists, handle the screening and vaccinations. In addition, if you offer vaccinations to employees on a voluntary basis, and the employee voluntarily agrees to answer pre-screening questions related to disability or other reasons, you are not liable. However, if an employee decided not to receive the vaccination, it would be illegal to engage in retaliation, intimidation or threats against him or her for refusing the vaccine. The Vaccine and Grounds for Job Termination A disability or a sincerely held religious belief, practice or observance may be reasons that employees choose not to receive vaccinations. Employers must make reasonable accommodations, whenever possible. If...

COVID 19 Response Employment Impacts for New York Workers and Businesses

As we all know, there is only one issue in the news right now: the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), its varied impacts upon global societies, and the increasingly extraordinary measures being taken by nations, states and local governments to minimize the adverse health consequences to vulnerable populations. If you are a New Yorker reading this article, you are no doubt seriously worried about the possibility of contracting the virus. Even for the relatively young and healthy among us, the fear of community spread to family and friends who may be elderly or immunocompromised is very real, as they are at heightened risk of serious health complications. Here in New York City, as public schools and many businesses have been closed for the foreseeable future, people are wondering how this constantly evolving situation may impact their livelihoods, and are looking for ways to survive what may be a potentially long and painful period of economic pain. This article will provide some helpful information for employees and employers looking for some relief in these difficult times. Information for Affected NYC Employees Many businesses in the service and hospitality sectors have already been ordered to close by city and state governments. Additionally, many other businesses have either been forced to shutter or have vastly reduced staffing levels due to serious decline in customers and revenues as most New Yorkers begin to shelter in place. If you have been laid off or furloughed by your employer, you should immediately apply for unemployment insurance benefits, as New York has waived the normal seven-day waiting period before filing a claim. This means that workers who lose...