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Walnut Creek Magazine

Yes, It’s Required...Vaccines to Unmask and Even to Report for Work

Jun 14, 2021 03:48PM ● By Harper Klein

Now that June 15 is here, and California has officially reopened its economy, questions about policies remain for employers who are beginning to bring workers back to the office. According to new guidance from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, companies are within their rights to demand that employees get vaccinated against the coronavirus, subject to the reasonable accommodation provisions of Title VII and the ADA.  

They can also require employees to provide documentation or other confirmation of vaccination. "Employers are allowed to mandate the vaccine," San Francisco employment and labor law attorney Jim Brown said during an interview with ABC7. But there are certain factors to take into consideration.

Brown says vaccines need to be made readily available for the entire workforce. The employer is also required to "take into account any serious health condition or medical reasons a worker may suffer from that would prevent them from having the vaccine," Brown said.

What if an employee won’t get vaccinated because of a disability or religious beliefs? 

That worker may be entitled to special accommodations, as long as it does not pose an “undue hardship” on the business. So far, most major companies are encouraging employees to get the jab rather than requiring them to do so.

Government entities can also require vaccinations for entry, service and travel, a practice that follows a 1905 Supreme Court ruling in Jacobson v. Massachusetts that allowed states to require people to be vaccinated against smallpox. That decision paved the way for public schools to require proof of vaccinations from students.

Beginning Tuesday, fully vaccinated Californians will not need to wear masks except in the following settings:

Public transportation, including airplanes, ships, ferries, trains, and taxis.

Indoors in K-12 schools, childcare and other youth settings.

Health care settings, including long-term care facilities, homeless shelters, emergency shelters and cooling centers.

Businesses that choose to require masks for all patrons.

Unvaccinated individuals must continue to wear masks in indoor public settings and businesses, such as retail stores, theaters, restaurants and state and local government offices serving the public.

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