Legal analyst: Employers can require COVID-19 vaccinations for workers

Posted at 6:14 PM, Jul 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-30 21:14:46-04

San Diego (KGTV) This week, government agencies started following each other in mandating employees to get COVID-19 vaccinations or go through frequent testing.

The County of San Diego announced Thursday that county employees would be required to verify COVID-19 vaccination or undergo regular testing by mid-August.

The same applies for state and federal workers, including tens of thousands here in San Diego.

Companies like Disney, Walmart, Google, and Facebook have also announced specific vaccination mandates, which has some wondering if employers can legally require workers to be vaccinated.

“The carrot isn’t working; it’s time for the stick because we have got to get out of this nightmare we’ve been living through for the last year and a half,” said legal analyst Dan Eaton.

“Employers are allowed to mandate vaccination, subject to exceptions for religious objections, medical conditions, and disabilities.”

Eaton said even where those exceptions apply, employers need to find a way to keep the workplace safe, likely requiring unvaccinated employers to undergo regular mandatory testing for COVID-19, plus social distancing and masking.

Right now, legal authorities, including the Department of Justice, are weighing in because the vaccines currently have an emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), not full approval just yet.

“They are saying that look this emergency use authorization is not an obstacle to private employers mandating vaccinations, so you’re going to see more and more employers mandating vaccinations as these legal uncertainties recede,” Eaton said.

Still, he expects a lot of pushback from employees in court, not just for the next few months but also for years to come.

“The one thing you can guarantee in California if you have a mandate, whether its imposed by the government or imposed by an employer, you are going to have a lawsuit,” he said.