Federal Law Says Employers Can Require Workers To Get COVID-19 Vaccines

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The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission updated its guidelines to state that U.S. employers could require workers who physically enter a workplace to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Federal laws also allow employers to offer incentives to workers who voluntarily take the vaccine. The EEOC says, however, that federal laws may require employers to provide “reasonable accommodations” for workers who, because of a disability or a religious belief, aren’t vaccinated. Reasonable accommodations, per the EEOC, include allowing an unvaccinated employee — for one of those two reasons — to telework or work in person with a mask.

Pretty straightforward so far. Here’s where the fight begins:

While federal laws say employers can require workers to receive the COVID vaccine, existing obstacles indicate that most will hesitate to do so.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the matter remains up to state and other local laws. “Whether an employer may require or mandate COVID-19 vaccination is a matter of state or other applicable law,” the CDC says. Presumably, a major business allowing only vaccinated workers would cause a battle in red states across the country.

Furthermore, employers already say they are struggling to fill open positions as prospective employees choose to stay home for one reason or another. How many businesses that are actively trying to fill openings would give people another reason to say no?

There’s even a gray area for businesses offering their employees vaccine incentives. The commission says the incentives must not be “coercive,” a term experts view as subjective.

“What is ‘coercive’ is unclear because, just as with anything else, one person’s view of what is a coercive incentive is not the same as another person’s,” said New York-based attorney Helen Rella.

“You might find an incentive of $100 coercive and another person might find an incentive of $10,000 coercive. That’s where the door is left open [where] we don’t have the detailed guidance we were hoping to receive.”

How open is that door? Dollar General, which offers four extra hours of pay to vaccinated employees, could soon find out. As could Bolthouse Farms, which intends to pay full-time, vaccinated workers $500.

I’m at least open to a discussion about incentives. However, states should not allow large businesses to mandate that all their workers return fully vaccinated.

Those who favor a mandate argue that an unvaccinated employee “endangers” co-workers and customers who are trying to avoid the virus. At one point, that may have been true. That’s not the case anymore, though.

More than half of adult Americans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The vaccine is available to all Americans who want it, except for select groups. To say an employee must receive the vaccine to protect the young (who are at a very small risk) and those who don’t want the vaccine is unreasonable.

Because of their youth and overall health, a good number of the unvaccinated are not vulnerable to severe symptoms, hospitalization or death from COVID. A business that ignores this reality and plans to mandate COVID vaccines furthers the viewpoint that we can’t reach normalcy until each living person’s chances of contracting the virus is almost zero. 

All that said, it takes just one company to roll the ball and mandate the vaccine. Once one major company says its workers must receive it, others will follow, as they always do. If you are a fan of loopholes, twisted words, and science (whatever that means anymore), buckle up for this battle.

Written by Bobby Burack

Bobby Burack is a writer for OutKick where he reports and analyzes the latest topics in media, culture, sports, and politics..

Burack has become a prominent voice in media and has been featured on several shows across OutKick and industry related podcasts and radio stations.


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  1. They are incorrect and will be sued if they try and force employees to get a yet to be FDA approved medication do they want to know if you have smallpox or polio or hepatitis vaccinations as well much more serious diseases the answer is no all this is pure political nonsense and must stop.

    • Unfortunately, HIPAA only covers medical providers and who they provide your medical information to. HIPAA does not, in any way, PREVENT or make it illegal for anyone to ask you your medical information. Of course, nothing says you have to answer or provide that info. This, of course, will cause you to incur the consequences.

      COVID is an infectious disease that spreads through human contact. Employers are compelled by law to provide a safe workspace for their employees. As much as people may disagree with it, that safe workspace does cover infectious diseases.

        • Smallpox, for the most part, is not a threat. The last case in the Americas occurred in 1971 in Brazil. Routine vaccination of the American public against smallpox stopped in 1972 after the disease was eradicated in the United States. On the basis of death certificate data, the TB mortality rate in the United States was 0.2/100,000 population, or 555 deaths, in 2013 and has not changed since 2003. In short, it’s not that serious. As far as the flu is concerned, “herd immunity” is considered to be achieved despite things like the H1N1 outbreak. To sum up, COVID is the current “emergency.” Far reaching and short sighted decisions will be made and policy implemented based on those. I don’t agree with it, just explaining our government will allow this.

          • LOL yeah not that serious unless you get it they still immunize against smallpox its still real and a threat and they don’t have to offer a burger and fries to get you to take it sorry not drinking the kool aid

      • The Nuremburg Code states I cannot be forced to take an experimental drug/injection. All the COVID “vaccines” are experimental and the manufacturers have no liability whatsoever.

        No thanks. I won’t take it and if I’m forced, I’ll sue.

  2. So are all the of the anti vaccine parent’s going to be forced to give there kids all there shots? Lose there rights as parents? Are all the schools going to force parents to get the required vaccines?

  3. This will be the straw the breaks the camel’s back for Americans who have thus far quietly resisted this lunacy. If employers choose to pressure employees into putting something in their bodies they fear will cause physical harm we will have officially crossed a threshold violating civil rights that will require significant, strong and sustained resistance from many people. This government has officially become dangerous and threatening to our freedoms. This is an extremely reckless thing for the cdc to have put in writing.

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