Law professor weighs in on workplace vaccine mandates

Published: Aug. 27, 2021 at 6:09 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - FDA approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine has prompted more companies to mandate the shot for employees.

WDBJ7 spoke with an employment law expert and visiting professor at the Washington and Lee University School of Law about employers’ legal ability to require the shot as a condition of employment.

Susan Carle says an employer does have the ability to require the vaccine, especially in the private sector, and says it would be unlikely a court would strike down a vaccine requirement while offering at-will employment.

“Personal preference not to take the vaccine or the belief that the government shouldn’t mandate, or an employer shouldn’t mandate the vaccine or even concerns about the safety of the vaccine, those are not recognized grounds over law,” says Carle.

Carle says FDA approval was a huge green light for many workplaces to announce the requirement after consulting their attornies on the move.

There are exceptions to company-wide vaccine mandates for workers wanting to abstain who have medical or religious reasons.

Those medical issues would usually have to be deemed reasonable by the employer before an employee is exempt.

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