A North Carolina employer can require employees to get a Covid-19 vaccine as a condition of their employment. The power to require vaccinations is similar to that for requiring safety helmets at a construction site, or protective clothing at a meatpacking plant; employers can set safety measures deemed necessary to protect employees and the public. A North Carolina employer can decide that Covid-19 vaccines are necessary to protect safety in the businesses’ operations. 

While some employer decisions might need advice from employment law firms, Covid-19 is not an unusual question for employers to consider. For example, employers have traditionally asked for tetanus vaccinations. Covid-19 poses a severe threat, and it is highly contagious.

Most employees have experience with vaccine requirements. Public and private schools have a long history of requiring vaccines against certain contagious and dangerous diseases like polio. The public vaccine program has eliminated polio for a large segment of the world’s population.

Employers cannot force employees to get vaccinations. Jobs may depend on getting a vaccination and employees may have to weigh the consequences of refusing a vaccine. Employers have a strong legal position to make rules that protect the health and safety of workers in the workplace.

Exceptions to Employer’s Rightsfree legal case evaluation

National laws provide special protections for people with disabilities. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and EEO laws and regulations protect workers against certain discriminatory practices. Employers with fifteen or more employees must comply with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and other equal employment laws like the Rehabilitation Act.

An employee may present with a disability that can prevent vaccination or render vaccination ineffective. The employer has a duty to ensure that individuals do not risk the health or safety of others in the workplace. Title VII asks employers to consider the duration of the risk, the severity of the risk, and the potential for harm. It is important to look at the likelihood of harm. Once an employer decides to treat an employee’s Covid-19 situation as a business risk, its policies must be consistent with the law, and we recommend discussing any objections with an experienced law firm before falling foul of any specific requirements imposed by your employers.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act requires employers to avoid criteria that tend to screen out or block persons with disabilities. State laws can also require employers to demonstrate that any rule is job-related and necessary for the business. Experienced advisors and employment law firms help employees and employers resolve complex situations.

Employer Obligations 

Exceptions to the rule that employers can require covid-19 vaccinations exist for disabilities and persons protected by the Rehabilitation Act and Equal Employment Opportunity laws. EEO protections include age, gender, and religion. Employers must determine whether there are reasonable accommodations that enable the employee to work and protect other employees.

– Reasonable Accommodations 

Reasonable accommodations are steps or modifications that courts have indicated are not burdensome on the employer and permit the employee to continue in employment. The specific steps vary with each case but generally are adjustments that protect other employees and the public. Examples include protective gear, workplace barriers, adjusting or removing unimportant functions, and permitting remote work.

– Religious Objections 

Religious objections are sincerely held beliefs and practices. Employees unable to get a Covid-19 vaccination because of religious factors must notify the employer. Upon receiving notice, an employer should discuss the issue with the employee and determine whether some reasonable accommodation can resolve the problem.

Employment Law Advice Is Beneficial

The law on vaccine requirements is settled but every situation must be looked at for its unique individual factors. The government and medical response to Covid-19 is not simple, and it has evolved as the disease has changed. Individual rights depend on the circumstances, and Covid-19 presents a wide range of questions. Employment law firms can assist clients involved in difficult employment situations that involve the application of vaccine policies.

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