“Companies have every good reason to get all of their employees vaccinated and also have an obligation to keep all employees and customers safe,” said Lawrence Gostin, who teaches global health law at Georgetown University.
Many others who have knowledge about health law agreed that employees have few civil liberties at the work place, while companies wield extensive authority to regulate health and safety conditions.
“Employers can legally require people to get vaccinated,” ABC7 legal analyst Gil Soffer said, according to WLS. “Some employers already require their employees to get vaccinated for the flu, for example.”
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has concurred in Gostin’s judgement about previous vaccines, though the agency has not commented on COVID-19 vaccines in particular.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said in May that companies could force their workers to be tested for the coronavirus before allowing them to return to work. This authority may extend to the vaccine.
Robert Field, who teaches law and public health at Drexel University, said companies may not be able to mandate the vaccination because President Donald Trump bypassed the regulatory review process to accelerate its development.
“Employers are on shakier grounds because of the emergency-use authorization,” Field said.
There is no precedent for employers mandating a vaccination that the health bureaucracy has not vetted.
Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could be distributed as early Dec. 15 if the Food and Drug administration grants an emergency authorization.
Public opinion polls show that about half of Americans would likely or definitely refuse a vaccination.
Strong public opposition has some employers announcing that they will not mandate a vaccination for their employees. Americans oppose the vaccination because of concerns about safety, morality, and liberty.
“Companies could theoretically issue a mandate, but in the current political climate it is very unlikely they will do so,” said Peter Meyers, who teaches law at George Washington University Law School. “Americans tend to shy away from mandates.”
Ford Motor Company ordered 12 deep freezers so they could store and administer the vaccine to employees, but the company will not require anyone to take it as a condition of employment.
The Kellogg Company staked out a similar position, saying that employees who want the vaccine can have it.
If employers decide to mandate the vaccine, then lawsuits could follow, which may make their way to the Supreme Court.
One potential safeguard against forced vaccination is a religious liberty exemption, since vaccines often develop by unethical means.
AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, for example, contains cells that were originally derived from the embryonic kidney cells of an unborn baby who was murdered, Snopes reported.
Although COVID-19 vaccines do not literally contain aborted fetus cells, they contain derivates from them.
But if employees successfully resist the vaccine through a religious exemption, employers may have other means to punish them.
In the past, courts have required employers to provide alternative accommodations.
Under the new normal, employers could compel employees to wear masks for as long as they refuse to accept the vaccine.