On July 21, 2021, Venable partner Nick Reiter was quoted in Business Insurance on the move to mandatory vaccinations for COVID-19 in healthcare settings, a trend experts say has been spurred by a rise in cases of the disease nationwide and the recent dismissal of a federal lawsuit challenging a vaccination mandate.
According to the article, a federal judge for the Southern District of Texas in Houston dismissed a lawsuit filed by 117 workers at Houston Methodist Hospital over a requirement that they be vaccinated against COVID-19 or lose their jobs. However, the threat of litigation and fear that some workers will leave to join competitors that don’t have shot mandates have deterred some hospital systems from requiring vaccinations.
Reiter told Business Insurance that concerns from employer clients over vaccination requirements rise daily. “While the Bridges decision might give employers more comfort, I think employers are still wrestling with, do they want to go as far (as) to require the vaccine for employees to keep their job,” he said.
A directive from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) can be helpful in employers’ decision making, he said. The EEOC determined in May that employers can mandate COVID-19 shots for employees, provided they do not meet the bar for exceptions, which include religious beliefs and health concerns. Still, Mr. Reiter said, many employers don’t want to go that far. “They will instead allow incentive programs that encourage but do not require” vaccinations, he said.
“Some of the employers had been watching cases drop and they might have been thinking this is going away. But this may play out in the other direction. … We see that in the news every day,” he said.
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