FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Yes, an employer can suggest, request or even require its employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine with the current state of the law.
With the first round of doses of COVID-19 vaccines now being administered in Fort Wayne and beyond, people are starting to wonder if their employer will require the vaccination when the time comes.
For the general employee who refused the vaccine after it was requested, the employer can then mandate the shot. If the employee continues to refuse, the employee could be terminated potentially for insubordination, refusal of following a command, or instruction.
Sam Bolinger, of Samuel L Bolinger & Associates, told WANE 15’s Briana Brownlee that businesses need to consider the guidelines from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, as well as The American’s Disability Act, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, when making the decision to mandate the vaccine.
With the EEOC, workers will need at least 15 total employees to file a complaint, however OSHA only needs one. Like everything surrounding the coronavirus, the current state of this law will potentially change.
“Bottom line: business necessity pretty much currently drives the EEOC as well as the OSHA standards,” said Samuel. “Yes, the best thing to do currently under the law is for the employer to request or highly recommended the shot. It’s probably not a good idea to simply cut down a mandate and say, ‘Do it or else.’ It raises potential for lots of legal issues for the employer to face later on.”
Health care workers and long-term care facility workers are the only ones receiving the vaccine in Indiana at this time, though the elderly may be next in line. For the workers over the age of 65 who do not feel safe getting the vaccine, they are potentially protected under Title VII, the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Religious beliefs are also protected under this act.
“You have to show true religious belief, you can’t just make it up that you charter your own religion yesterday,” said Bolinger. “You may need your religious or spiritual leader to indicate that it is a found church or temple.”