The South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations is posting on their website tonight a few notes for healthcare employers on why the organization believes overall that employers are well within their legal rights to mandate vaccination for employees as a condition of employment, subject to a few rules:
Providers, as private employers, have no prohibition on vaccine mandates under federal law so they really need to stay attuned to what is happening on the state level as mentioned above.
Two recent court decisions have addressed whether a hospital or public university can mandate a COVID-19 vaccine for employees and students. Both of these cases upheld the vaccine mandate, even while the current vaccines are only under Emergency Use Authorization. Based on these decisions we will likely see more public and private employers implement mandates before we see full FDA approval of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
Finally, if providers implement a policy requiring a COVID-19 vaccine (or other vaccine) as a condition of employment, federal and state law allows employees to request an exemption based on a disability/medical condition or religious objections. Providers should carefully review the EEOC guidance as well as any corollary state law guidance on how to implement such a program within their organization. There is a process in how to address any exemptions to a vaccine mandate and those with flu vaccine mandates should be familiar with this accommodations process already.
People trying to get government to intervene and tell businesses what qualifications they can or cannot put on their employees is a very troubling type of government intervention. Especially since the right to be infectious is not a protected class under federal law.
If an organization such as Sanford (who is in the news recently for such a mandate) does not wish to employ the unvaccinated in a health care setting, that’s their right, as much as it is for those who don’t like it to take their business elsewhere.
Last time I checked, we still operate under the free enterprise system.
At least for the moment.