What are workers’ rights if their companies require COVID-19 vaccines and they do not get them?
By Aaron T. Novasic
Many of us don’t remember what it was like to work in the office. When COVID-19 hit the United States, everything changed. Working from home became the new normal for many Americans. Over the last two years, there have been ups and downs with the “rules and regulations” of workplaces.
Some might not be able to keep up with what we can and cannot do in the office/workplace, and employers have their own rules to follow from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). For those who have returned to working in the office, you may have experienced confusion on the requirements of social distancing as well as face mask and vaccine mandates.
In September 2021, President Joe Biden’s administration announced a vaccination or test mandate for all private companies with 100 or more employees.
OSHA’s emergency temporary standard (ETS) would have required businesses with at least 100 employees to ensure workers are vaccinated against the coronavirus or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing by Feb. 9. It required that covered workers receive a COVID–19 vaccine. The only exception is for workers who obtain a medical test each week at their own expense and on their own time, and also wear a mask each workday.
This was met with dozens of lawsuits across the nation from private employers, as well as state and local governments that were against the vaccine mandate. This matter was heard before the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that the ETS was not constitutional, OSHA could only regulate occupational safety, and the vaccine mandate was seen as “broad public health measures.” In a concurring opinion, Justice Gorsuch wrote that it should be up to states and Congress to decide best how to respond to a pandemic like COVID-19, according to National Federation of Independent Business v. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration 595 U.S. (2022).
Other businesses might create their own policies that mirror OSHA’s ETS. Private-sector employers still have the right to roll out a vaccine mandate. Hopefully, in Illinois we will see more people return to the workplace now with the recent order from the governor. Everyone will have to wait and see.
If you are concerned about your rights when returning to the office, we will be glad to further discuss your matter. Feel free to contact us at Gardi, Haught, Fischer & Bhosale LTD by clicking on the free case evaluation below.