As vaccines for the coronavirus have been developed, and are now in the process of being delivered, some employers have begun to contemplate mandatory vaccination policies. If these were implemented, it could significantly affect employees across many fields, especially essential workers who are much more likely to be exposed to the virus. But what would a mandatory vaccination policy entail, and what happens to employees who cannot, or will not, comply with them?
What is a Mandatory Vaccination Policy?
As the name implies, a mandatory vaccination policy is a policy by an employer that would require their employees to undergo vaccination, principally for COVID-19. This kind of policy would mean an employer could penalize an employee for failing to get a vaccination within a certain period of time, up to and including potentially firing them for noncompliance. Such a policy would be intended to allow employees to work without fear of infecting each other, or fear of getting infected from customers who they may interact with during the course of doing their job.
Would a Mandatory Vaccination Policy Be Legal?
While some have contested the validity of a mandatory vaccination policy, the general consensus is that such a policy would be legal in the vast majority of cases. The only exceptions to such policies would be for people who have medical conditions that make vaccination untenable, or due to sincerely held religious beliefs. Whether such policies would stand up to legal scrutiny would also be dependent on the exact terms of the policy, but as a general rule, it is legally acceptable for employers to compel their employees to get vaccinations.
The reason such a policy is considered legally valid is due to the threat that the coronavirus poses both to other employees and to customers within the business. While the rights of employees are important, the health and safety of people within the business is more important. Thus, any excuses aside from religious beliefs or potential harm due to a diagnosed medical condition are typically not considered valid reasons for not getting vaccinated.
What Might Happen if I Do Not Comply With Mandatory Vaccination?
An employee who refuses to comply with a mandatory vaccination policy, and who does not have a valid medical condition or religious belief that would exempt them from vaccination, would not be allowed back on the premises of their workplace. They may also face other professional consequences, such as facing formal discipline, losing vacation days or sick days, or even being fired. That said, however, these policies are likely not to be implemented for some time, given how much time it has taken to distribute vaccines.
If you have gotten into a legal dispute with your employer, it is important that you seek the guidance of an experienced New York employment lawyer who can protect your legal rights and advocate on your behalf. Steven Mitchell Sack, the Employee’s Lawyer, is a New York employment lawyer with more than 39 years’ experience handling the many aspects of employment law. To schedule an appointment with New York City employment lawyer Steven Mitchell Sack, call (917) 371-8000 or visit his contact page.