TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - With COVID-19 vaccines on the horizon, employers are asking if they can require employees to get the vaccine. East Texas attorney Randy Roberts says the answer is yes.
“Yes,” he said. “An employer can require a COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment, particularly if they’re trying to improve workplace safety or customer safety.”
Roberts said while your boss can require you to get a COVID-19 vaccine, there are some exceptions. These possible exemptions include medical issues and religious beliefs.
“If your excuse is a medical excuse, the best way to document that is a letter from your doctor,” Roberts said. “If it’s a religious excuse, it’s a little more complicated. But at the end of the day, if the employee says it’s against my religious belief, and there’s a good faith basis for believing that is their belief, then the employee is probably going to have good grounds to resist that and succeed in resisting it.”
Dallas employment attorney Rogge Dunn says if a worker has a legitimate reason for not wanting the vaccine, they need to make it clear and document it.
“Put that in writing so they can never say you didn’t say that and it avoids becoming a he said/she said argument,” Dunn said.
Roberts’ advice for the more prudent employer is to use incentives.
“What that employer could do is say if you get that vaccination, you can avoid wearing a mask, you can keep your door open, you can go into the break room and mix and mingle with employees and have a more sociable environment,” he said. “I would use that kind of incentive, rather than the force of the law.”
So far, no major East Texas employers have announced vaccine requirements. Spokespersons for UT Health East Texas and CHRISTUS tell KLTV that vaccines will be recommended for their caretakers, not required.