Can companies require their employees and customers to receive the COVID vaccine?

Can companies require their employees and customers to receive the COVID vaccine?

“The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has issued guidelines saying that employers can require that employees have the vaccine in order to work,” says Karen Sanders, senior counsel with the Tully Rinckey law firm. So, News10NBC went to an expert to ask… if businesses are requiring the vaccine, are they breaking the law?  But, there’s a catch – if employers are going to require the vaccine, they have to be mindful of possible exemptions. 

“Mandates are one of those things … it instantly puts people on the defense,” says  Alayna Alderman, the VP of Record Archive, “So I don’t think it’s ever a good position to have. I can say that I strongly suggest it, I strongly encourage.”  At Record Archive in Rochester, 16 out of 17 staff members have received the vaccine without a mandate from the store. Managers say they’re not going to make a rule about employees or customers being vaccinated, but they are highly recommending it. 

Other businesses are leaving it up to employees and customers to decide on their own. Park Ave Pets’ owner sent News10NBC a statement saying “I do not believe it is up to me to try to control people’s choices regarding their own bodies or their health.” “In terms of a mandate for our customers, that would be, I think, really difficult for us to enforce,” says Mary Boland, founder and owner of Happy Earth Tea. “Putting that onus on the small businesses, I think, is very difficult.”

Source www.whec.com “The customers have a choice, too,” says Sanders. “If they don’t want to be vaccinated they simply just don’t go to that establishment.”
 

Sanders also pointed out that there are some benefits for employers that require the vaccine for customers. Restaurants, for example, can allow more people in (and potentially make more money) if the vaccine is required for guests.  “There needs to be exceptions for people who have disabilities who are unable to get vaccines or potentially religious exemptions,” says Sanders. 

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