The recent news regarding COVID vaccines has been encouraging. In fact, some Texas public health employees will begin receiving vaccines as soon as this week. And soon they will be available to portions of the public at large.
In light of this, can you require your employees to get vaccinated? In Texas, the short answer is yes, but with exceptions. Most Texas employees are employed at will, thus you can make vaccination a condition of continued employment. The EEOC has gone on record, however, that you cannot require employees to get vaccinated if they have a disability under the ADA or a sincerely held religious belief that would prohibit them from vaccination. This guidance was issued in 2009, but there is no reason to think it would not also apply to COVID. Further, if your employees are unionized, or are engaged in concerted activity, requiring vaccination without bargaining with the union, or otherwise retaliating against such an employee, may violate the National Labor Relations Act.
As such, the EEOC suggested in its 2009 guidance that employers simply encourage employees to get vaccinated, and not require vaccination. More next week on what such encouragement can look like.
Be safe and stay the course. And of course, let us know if we can help.