The aggressive Delta variant of COVID-19 is surging across the country, and in response, some large employers are requiring their employees to get vaccinated. I’m getting lots of questions about the legalities of workplace rules regarding vaccinations, so it is time for an update to my December post about companies mandating vaccinations. For private employers in Texas, it is well within the companies’ rights to require their employees to get vaccinated.
Why Consider a Mandate?
The current surge is primarily affecting the unvaccinated, who are much more likely to get seriously ill, be hospitalized or die from the Delta variant. Because no vaccine is 100% effective, there are, of course, breakthrough infections among the fully vaccinated, but these are mostly mild or asymptomatic cases. The City of Amarillo reported on Friday, August 20 that the overwhelming majority (90.6%) of the hospitalized patients in Amarillo are unvaccinated.
As of Monday, August 23, 2021, 60% of those Americans over 12 who are eligible were fully vaccinated against COVID-19. That is not enough to get control over this pandemic and people are still being exposed in their workplaces. This creates a dilemma for employers, because employers have a legal duty to provide a safe workplace for their employees.
Employers in the Texas Panhandle are also still dealing with serious labor shortages and cannot afford to have employees out sick or quarantined for weeks at a time. Making sure employees are vaccinated solves those issues in many cases.
Vaccinations are clearly one way many employers believe employees will be safer from serious disease, hospitalization and death during this current crisis. So some employers have lost patience with employees who claim their personal freedoms outweigh the common good, and businesses have started to mandate vaccinations.
Who is Mandating Vaccinations?
Littler reported that 46% of employers are strongly considering a vaccine mandate. The federal government, several state and city governments, the U.S. military, casinos, cruise lines, Tyson Foods, United Airlines, Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, Google, Netflix, Walmart, Disney and other employers are now requiring that some or all of their employees get the shots.
With the announcement on August 23 that the Food and Drug Administration finalized full approval of the Pfizer vaccine for persons 16 and older, many more employers are going to mandate vaccinations. In fact, President Biden immediately urged employers to help boost the vaccination rates in this country by requiring employees be vaccinated. “If you’re a business leader, a nonprofit leader, a state or local leader who has been waiting on full FDA approval to require vaccinations, I call on you now to do that–require it. It only makes sense to require a vaccine to stop the spread of COVID-19.”
But some employers are concerned they might get sued by their employees for requiring their employees to be vaccinated. Recent cases indicate that should not be a significant concern for employers. Whether your company will mandate the vaccine or will just encourage employees through incentives to get vaccinated, you may be interested in the legal landscape that is emerging around employers and vaccinations.Continue reading Employers Mandating Employee Vaccinations