Morgan Stanley will soon bar unvaccinated employees from its New York offices and more than 150 hospital workers in Houston just resigned or were fired for refusing to roll up their sleeves, issues that could become more common as employers deliberate ways to safely reopen workplaces amid flagging vaccination rates.
153 employees at Houston Methodist Hospital either resigned or were fired Tuesday after losing a legal battle against the hospital’s Covid-19 vaccine requirement, with the presiding federal judge saying they could work elsewhere if they didn’t like the policy.
The mass termination, as well as the associated legal challenge, charts new territory in the U.S. and is a possible sign of things to come as mandate deadlines loom at dozens of hospitals and healthcare providers across the country.
Morgan Stanley and BlackRock, which plan to open their offices to vaccinated employees only, have some of the strictest policies on Wall Street, while Goldman Sachs is making it mandatory for staff to disclose their vaccination status.
United Airlines and Delta Air Lines both require new hires to prove they have been vaccinated and offer incentives to try and encourage existing employees to get the shot—United’s CEO wants to make vaccines mandatory for all but said it can only “realistically” do so if joined by other airlines.
In the public sector, persistently low immunization rates among police has some forces, such as Los Angeles, also contemplating mandates, and with over 500 universities requiring staff or students to be immunized, education establishments are some of the most prolific users of vaccine mandates so far.
Though the federal government says employers can require workers to get a shot and some experts believe mandates to be on strong legal footing, it is an untested area of the law and the exorbitant costs of litigation combined with the politics of vaccination has most employers wary of implementing stricter rules.
What To Watch For
Houston Methodist suspended 178 unvaccinated employees for two weeks without pay for refusing to comply with the hospital’s vaccine mandate on time. A majority of the employees, 117, then sued in an attempt to overturn the requirement, comparing their treatment to those experimented on by the Nazis and demanding the right for employees to be free to choose whether or not to be vaccinated. The case was dismissed in federal court and the presiding judge described arguments likening the mandate to medical experimentation during the Holocaust as “reprehensible” and false, as were employees’ claims the vaccines are “experimental and dangerous”. The group has appealed the judgment, which could become an important test case for a mostly-untested area of law.
With every adult in the U.S. eligible to receive a shot and vaccination rates falling to record lows, employers hoping to return to the office face tough choices. While many are offering incentives, stubbornly high rates of vaccine hesitancy—polls consistently show around one in five Americans refusing to get the vaccine unless compelled to do so—represent a significant barrier to achieving high levels of vaccination. President Joe Biden has been open about his opposition to mandating vaccines in the past and numerous states have moved to pass their own laws making it harder for employers to do so.
105. That’s how many bills have been introduced by state lawmakers to limit the ability for employers to mandate vaccines, according to the National Academy for State Health Policy. Two have passed state legislatures—in Missouri and New Hampshire—and six have been signed by governors—in Indiana, Montana, Texas, Utah and Arkansas, where two have been signed.
Employers Can Require Workers To Get Vaccinated, Government Says (Forbes)
Health Workers Are Getting Fired For Refusing The Covid Vaccine—Here’s Why Office Workers Could Be, Too (Forbes)
Here Are The Biggest Groups That Are Still Refusing The Covid-19 Vaccine, Poll Finds (Forbes)
Full FDA Approval Of Pfizer’s Covid Shot Could Make Vaccine Mandates More Likely (Forbes)
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