Can businesses require employees to get vaccinated?

A legal expert breaks down the law and what the governor had to say
Posted at 11:36 AM, Apr 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-19 12:36:29-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — As access to COVID-19 vaccines expands, the debate about whether employers can require proof of vaccination from employees is heating up.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) stated, late last year, that employers have the right to require their employees to get a COVID vaccine.

Kelly Dineen, an associate professor of law, said there are some exceptions like people with disabilities or certain religious beliefs.

"If an employee had a sincerely held religious belief that prohibited them or they believed prohibited them from accepting the vaccine then the employee is required to make that exception as long as that exception doesn't create an undue burden for the employer,” she said.

The EEOC guide says certain protections must be offered to employees seeking exemption from vaccination, as well.

The organization added that an employer could possibly fire an employee for not getting the vaccine, especially if it impacts other employees working in close proximity.

Dineen said employers could get in trouble if they ask certain questions in the wrong order, or offer the vaccine themselves.

"You really have to know what you are doing as an employer,” she said. “If you decide to offer the shots through your own employees or with the subcontractor, which you know a lot of them do, that means you are making a disability-related inquire for every employee that gets the shot under you. It is probably safer for employers to say go get the shot and bring me proof."

Taylor Gage, a spokesperson for Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, sent the following statement:

Gov. Ricketts opposes vaccine mandates and passports. He encourages private employers to provide science-based information about the vaccines to their teams.

Local health departments are working with businesses to do on-site vaccine clinics.

The state does not regulate employer decisions regarding proof of vaccination.

The vaccines remain under an emergency-use authorization and the governor encourages private employers to seek voluntary vaccine acceptance in their workforces.

The Biden Administration has said the federal government will not be involved in creating vaccine credentials but it will provide guidance for private companies that want to.

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