Can Employers Mandate Their Employees to Receive the COVID-19 Vaccination?

February 2, 2021

Unless an employee is given a written contract that guarantees employment for a specific period of time, all employees are “at-will.” This means that any employer can fire an employee without notice or reason, so long as the employer does not do so on an illegal basis.

Given the highly contagious nature of COVID-19 and the safety obligations that employers have to keep their worksites and employees safe, it is likely that many employers will expect or mandate employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccination before returning to in-person work.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) most recent guidance suggests that the only reasons an employer cannot mandate the vaccine is if an employee has a sincerely held religious belief or a disability that would prohibit them from taking a vaccine.

Accordingly, while employers cannot force employees to get vaccinated per se, they can fire at-will employees for failing to do so.

Please don't hesitate to contact Laura Balson, Employment Practice Group Chair, or your GCT lawyer for more information on employment law issues concerning the COVID-19 vaccine.