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Vaccinations can be required by workplace, according to attorney

According to an attorney, employers can terminate if they determine if an individual who does not want to be vaccinated will expose others to the virus at the work site.
Published: Jan. 14, 2021 at 9:43 PM CST
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - As the vaccine rollout continues, many will have to make the personal decision whether to take it or not.

But could your job be at risk if you decide not to get it?

Taking the COVID-19 vaccine is an individual choice, however that decision could impact the work place.

“Texas, and most states are an at-will state which means they can fire you without cause as long as it is not an illegal reason.”

Victor Trevino Junior, an attorney who’s practice specializes in federal employment law, says employers can chose to require employees to get the COVID vaccine, but their policy must align with the Americans with Disabilities Act or Title 7 from the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“Employers are allowed to implement mandatory vaccination policies as long as they are in writing, clear, and are not used for illegal means. Such as to discriminate against somebody’s religious beliefs, or to find ways to terminate employees. These vaccination policies should be centered in the health and safety of the workplace.”

Trevino says employers can terminate if they determine the individual, who does not want to be vaccinated, will expose others to the virus at the work site therefore posing a significant risk and harm to the health and safety of their colleagues.

“One of the foundations is that it has to be for the health and safety of the workplace as long as they have that as a premise and have it written down, they are covered.”

But there are two commonly used exceptions relating to medical reasons such a as disabilities, and religious objections.

For example, if you have a disability or a sincerely held religious belief that prevents you from getting the vaccine, by law employers are required to sit down with you and see if they can reasonably accommodate you.

Trevino says if these accommodations are too trivial or cause an undue hardship on the employer, the employee can still be excluded from physically entering the workplace and possibly terminated.

“This area of law is ever evolving. So as we will probably get are cases and more guidance.”

Trevino says this covers employers with 15 or more employees.

Those with 14 employees or fewer are not covered by statutes that would specifically address a mandatory vaccination policy.

He adds he does not expect employers to set mandatory vaccination policies until more doses become available because you can’t require something that’s impossible to get or is unavailable.

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