President Biden's Mandatory Vaccination Proclamation
SPECIAL REPORT BY TRIPP SCOTT'S CATALINA M. AVALOS
On September 9, 2021 President Biden issued COVID-19 vaccination mandates for federal employees and for private sector employers with 100 or more employees. Employees will have to get vaccinated or undergo Covid-19 testing at least once per week. While we wait for specific guidance from the Department of Labor and other federal agencies that regulate the workplace, larger companies meeting the 100 or more employee threshold should begin planning for the implementation of the mandate and notifying their employees of the mandatory vaccination requirement so that employees can begin planning accordingly. We anticipate that employers in the private sector will be given a reasonable amount of time to comply with the mandate. For example, federal workers subject to this mandate are expected to receive a 75-day grace period to get vaccinated. One thing seems to be clear though- the decision to require mandatory vaccinations in the workplace is no longer a matter of choice; at least for larger employers.
Employees with disabilities or with sincerely held religious beliefs will still have protections under the American Disabilities Act and other federal laws. Employers need to continue engaging in the interactive process with employees claiming to be exempt from the mandate, while still observing the employeeâ€™s privacy. The ADA requires an employer to maintain the confidentiality of employee medical information, such as documentation or other confirmation of COVID-19 vaccination. All medical information, must be kept confidential and stored separately from the employeeâ€™s personnel files under the ADA.
While employees can still decide whether or not to get the COVID-19 vaccine, if they refuse and do not have a valid exemption, they will have to get tested weekly or may have a difficult time remaining employed. On the other hand, according to various sources, employers that don't comply with the vaccine mandate or provide paid-time off to get vaccinated can face fines of up to $14,000 per violation. For the time being, we remain on the look-out for specific guidance as to when and how the mandate will be implemented.
Catalina M. Avalos is a director with the law firm of Tripp Scott, PA and focuses her practice in the areas of labor and employment, and complex commercial litigation. She is also a Florida Supreme Court Certified Civil Mediator and regularly gets appointed by the court to serve as an arbitrator and mediator in a multitude of cases. Avalos has also served as a special master in numerous cases.