Weighing the Risks of Mandating Employee COVID Vaccinations

July 7, 2021

By: Peter H. Wiltenburg

As a bonus to Bond’s July 6 Back to Business webinar, Bond labor and employment attorney Peter H. Wiltenburg provided an update on federal lawsuits that have been filed against employers requiring workers to get COVID-19 vaccinations.

As businesses weigh the risks associated with mandating COVID vaccination for their workforce, Bond has been keeping watch on four federal lawsuits that have been filed by employees. In these cases, the plaintiffs have argued the vaccines are experimental because they have been approved only for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration. Requiring employees to get the shot, therefore, is a violation of federal law and improper, the suits allege. 

A judge in Texas last month dismissed one of the federal suits, which had been filed against a Houston hospital, ruling that the federal law cited by the plaintiffs didn’t provide them the right to sue. In another suit, filed last week in New York, the plaintiffs (women who are trying to become pregnant and were furloughed after they refused to vaccinate) alleges disability discrimination based on New York City and New York State human rights laws and state labor laws. 

Peter advises employers considering vaccination mandates to comply with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s guidance on the subject (i.e., be prepared to consider reasonable accommodations for any employee who cites a disability or sincerely held religious belief as their reason not to vaccinate).

The full presentation covered the following topics:

  • Update from Albany
  • Court Challenges to Vaccine Mandates
  • NYS HERO Act Update
  • COVID-related Leaves

Click here to view the webinar in its entirety or to register for upcoming Tuesday presentations.