The vaccines created to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic represent the combined effort of hundreds of scientists. How these vaccines are legislated, however, remains to be seen. Across the United States, businesses and government institutions alike have questioned how private citizens may be expected to interact with vaccine mandates.
There are several institutions that already require attendees to obtain certain vaccinations. For example, schools in California require all attending students to be vaccinated against tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, and chickenpox. It is with this precedent in mind that California employers can require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Employers’ Rights in California Regarding Vaccines
Most businesses throughout California are private entities. As such, business owners can require certain behaviors of their employees. More specifically, the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission notes that individual agencies are permitted to require vaccinations of their staff, including but not limited to a COVID-19 vaccine.
In this same manner, individual businesses may determine whether they want to issue mask mandates. Business owners may equally require employees to prove their vaccination status.
Employee Rights in California Regarding Vaccines
While businesses operate as their own entities within the state, employees still retain their rights. Employees may resort to legal action if they feel they are discriminated against in the workplace. Team members may also request accommodations based on pre-existing health conditions and their religious beliefs.
COVID-19 Vaccination Exemption Policy
There are some specific accommodations and exemptions in place to allow certain individuals the right to work unvaccinated. Individuals who do not wish to be vaccinated due to disabilities may contest vaccine requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Similarly, employees may claim religious exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccine under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
California, too, requires that all businesses with five or more employees offer accommodations to individuals who cannot or will not get vaccinated against COVID-19. These accommodations can include the right to work from home, ready access to PPE, and ample sick days.
Reacting to COVID-19 with Business Policies
Employers who want to protect themselves, their business, and their clients against COVID-19 are acting within their rights when instituting in-store illness policies. As such, employers can require consistent COVID-19 tests and can remove unvaccinated individuals from their staff. However, employers should only do so with a comprehensive understanding of related California law.
For help drafting an in-store COVID-19 policy, business owners can turn to California employment law attorneys. An experienced lawyer can help business owners and employees alike address their pandemic-related concerns.
Learn More about Employee Rights with a California Attorney
Employers and employees alike are entitled to certain rights within the state of California. In complex national incidents like the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be unclear as to what those rights look like, especially when considering legislation issued on the federal level.
Anyone with questions regarding their employee or employer rights in California can turn to an employment attorney at Blackstone Law. Blackstone Law offers free consultations regarding the civil suits needed to address workplace concerns. Call (310) 956-4054 or use the firm’s contact form to learn more.