Experts weigh in on the legality of 'vaccine passports' in the workplace
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says employees can be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine. However, whether or not they are required to show proof of vaccination, can depend on the state. In Indiana, the one question at stake: is this is a private or public business?
In the state of Indiana, the introduction of two proposals, House Bill 1488 and Senate Bill 74 aimed to ban worker vaccination card requirements for public and private employers. However, the legislation wound up dying and being passed along to committee.
Lawmakers then inserted language into an unrelated bill to prohibit state and local units of government from requiring so-called vaccine passports. Meaning in the state of Indiana, public employers or institutions cannot legally require your vaccine records. However, this does not mean they cannot require the vaccine. For instance, counties can make hiring and firing decisions based on COVID-19 vaccinations, but cannot force you to show proof. Again, this only applies to public entities.
Vaccination requirements are nothing unfamiliar to most institutions including schools and hospitals. The COVID-19 vaccine having further exemptions because of its ‘emergency use’ status. However, as Pfizer applies for full approval, and with Moderna not too far behind, this could create even further litigation.
Experts saying the best piece of advice in these situations? Communication.
“I think from the employee and the employer side, you have to work together. I think we are all going through unprecedented times,” says Attorney Michael Misch, Shareholder with Anderson Agostino & Keller P.C. “Same thing for employees work with your employer, explain what is going on, if you are not a medical professional putting people in harm’s way, hopefully an employer is willing to work with employees because I am sure these employers do not want to draw a lawsuit from this big amount of employees saying hey we do not feel comfortable”
Of course, even for those private institutions, there are going to be some carve outs of the vaccine requirements under the American Disabilities Act and Title 7 pertaining to religion, so it is important to speak with an expert if you are in those circumstances and of course have that open dialogue with your employer.