In this special edition episode of States of America, experts answer the biggest questions Americans have about the vaccine, side effects, how it’s getting to you and more.
The claim: Companies mandating COVID-19 vaccines violates federal law
On Dec. 22, Chipotle Mexican Grill CEO Brian Niccol told CNBC that the company will “strongly encourage” but not require its employees to receive the coronavirus vaccine.
“As of right now, we’re not going to mandate it,” he said. He also said that the company will cover costs associated with the vaccine for employees who choose to receive it.
Some people — like the account Freedom Angels — took to Instagram to laud Chipotle for its choice and claim that mandating vaccines violates federal law.
“Hell ya! Great to see a company choosing to NOT violate ADA, OSHA & Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 rights of employees. It is an inalienable human right to NOT be coerced or forced to take a V,” the post states.
Freedom Angels has not responded to a request from USA TODAY for comment.
Fact check: Yes, employers can require that workers receive the COVID-19 vaccine
Experts say side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine range from soreness to fatigue. (Photo: Getty)
Employers have the legal right to mandate coronavirus vaccines
It’s not true that companies who mandate coronavirus vaccines are in violation of federal laws — including the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Employers have the legal right to mandate that their employees receive a COVID-19 vaccination, according to guidance released by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Dec. 16.
That’s because employers are allowed to set “a requirement that an individual shall not pose a direct threat to the health or safety of individuals in the workplace” — which includes some vaccines.
There are exceptions for employees with disabilities or “sincerely held” religious beliefs, categories of workers who are protected by the ADA and Title VII.
In those instances, employers must prove that an unvaccinated employee poses a “significant risk of substantial harm to the health or safety of the individual or others” in the workplace and attempt to provide them with “reasonable accommodation.”
If there is no reasonable accommodation, though, it is lawful for the employer to “exclude the employee from the workplace” — and in some cases, terminate them, per USA TODAY.
As for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a regulatory agency that sets and enforces protective workplace safety and health standards, the agency has not yet issued guidance on mandatory coronavirus vaccines.
In the past, though, both the EEOC and OSHA have ruled that it is legal for employers to mandate flu vaccines, per the National Law Review.
There is no indication that they will decide differently on coronavirus vaccines.
Our rating: False
Based on our research, the claim that companies mandating COVID-19 vaccines violate federal law is FALSE. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued guidance earlier this month that states that employers have the legal right to require that their employees receive coronavirus vaccines. As long as companies obey exceptions for employees with disabilities or “sincerely held” religious beliefs, vaccine mandates do not violate federal law.
Our fact-check sources:
- CNBC, Dec. 22, “Chipotle will not require its employees to get the coronavirus vaccine”
- U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Accessed Dec. 31, “What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws”
- USA TODAY, Dec. 22, “Fact check: Yes, employers can require that workers receive the COVID-19 vaccine”
- National Law Review, Dec. 7, “Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination In Employment”
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Our fact check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.
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