The clock is ticking for some health care workers to get vaccinated.
Medical facilities that receive Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services funding must get their staff at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or start exemption processes by the January 27 deadline. This comes after the United States Supreme Court upheld the Biden's Administration's vaccine mandate for these covered health care centers. At the same time, it blocked the mandate for large employers, pending disposition of the matter at the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, earlier this month.
As health care employers prepare to comply with the new mandate, workers seek ways to be exempt. Asheville Citizen Times' reporter Andrew Jones reached out to labor and employment attorney and Co-Manager Director, Devon Williams, for comment on how the "firm is addressing the issue with people seeking legal advice." From the article:
When asked if they had received calls from health care workers seeking a way to be exempt from the vaccine mandate, Ward & Smith attorney Devon Williams on Jan. 24 said, "Yes."
"We have received many calls from employees and employers regarding their respective rights as it relates to vaccines and vaccine mandates. As with any sensitive, hotly contested topic, we are seeing there are many sides to this issue and there are varying viewpoints on how to handle this situation."
Williams explained briefly how such vaccine exemptions worked.
Employees who have sincerely held "religious beliefs, practices or observances that conflict with the employer's policy mandating the vaccine" can contact their employer and request a reasonable accommodation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, Williams said.
The same goes for those who have a medical condition or disability protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act: They can request what is called "reasonable accommodation."
"In both instances, the employee may have to provide certain information to their employer regarding the accommodation request, and employees should cooperate with their employer's reasonable requests in determining whether a reasonable accommodation exists," Williams said.
"The employer should make an individualized assessment regarding the employee's situation in determining whether a reasonable accommodation exists, known as the interactive process."
Ward and Smith's Labor and Employment Team has written extensively about the legal battle over the vaccine-or-testing mandate and will continue to monitor any and all developments. You can stay informed by visiting https://www.wardandsmith.com/articles?p=/practice-areas/labor-and-employment.