Potential Liabilities for Employers Mandating Vaccines for Employees

July 6, 2021

Mandatory Vaccines in the Workplace

Many Americans are unwilling to get the vaccine for a myriad of valid reasons. These reasons range from true health and safety concerns surrounding the FDA fast-tracking process and limited data regarding long-term side effects to firmly held religious or political persuasions. Other employees, due to health complications, may not be able to safely receive the vaccine at all.

Potential Liabilities for Employers

Many employers now face the reality that mandating a COVID-19 vaccine has the possibility of angering or alienating a significant percentage of their current workforce. If not carefully navigated, such mandatory vaccination programs may also run afoul of federal and state law, resulting in expensive litigation for employers. As such, decreased employee morale, possible retention issues, and high litigation fees could become a reality for unsavvy businesses.

A severe allergic reaction to the vaccination is possible but rare, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).[1] The CDC reported that 21 cases of anaphylaxis were detected after about 1.9 million initial doses of Pfizer's vaccine were administered, and about 70 percent of reactions occurred within 15 minutes of receiving the vaccine.[2]

In the rare case that an employee is injured or harmed by an employer-mandated vaccine, under California law, an adverse reaction would be covered by workers' compensation and would not implicate liability on part of the employer individually.[3] Workers' compensation has been the employee's only recourse for other employer-required vaccinations barring some extreme form negligence on the part of the employer like vaccinating employees without proper medical supervision directly in the workplace.[4]

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