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Can an Iowa Employer Require a Covid Vaccination?

Updated on
February 4, 2021
Article written by
Eugene Nassif

With the Covid-19 (“Coronavirus”) vaccine approved and now being distributed throughout most of the country, many Iowans wonder whether their employers can require their employees to get the vaccination. In short, the answer is yes. 

 

In this article, we cover questions about the Covid-19 vaccine including: 

  • When Can My Employer Require Me To Get a Vaccine? 
  • What Reasons Can I Opt-Out of Getting a Required Vaccine? 
  • What Can My Employer Do Instead of Requiring Me To Get The Covid-19 Vaccine?

 

 

When can my employer require me to get a vaccine? 

Requiring vaccines as part of your employment isn’t necessarily something new. Many employers have traditionally required their employees to get flu shots or other vaccinations. The employers had the legal right to do so as long as the vaccines were job related and consistent with business necessity. While the employers may be able to mandate vaccines, they also have been required to be mindful of valid reasons why an employee may be unwilling or unable to take the vaccine and make reasonable exceptions for them. The two most notable exceptions have been for a health condition or disability and religious objections.  

 

What Reasons Can I Opt-Out of Getting a Required Vaccine? 

 

If an employee has a health issue or disability that would prevent them from being able to take the vaccine, they do not have to take it. The employee may be required to provide documentation supporting this from a healthcare provider. Should they do this, the employer must then make a reasonable accommodation for that employee.  

 

Similarly, there may be objections to a vaccine by the employee based on sincerely held religious beliefs. This exception is not one to take lightly and isn’t as easy to use as telling your employer you won’t take a vaccine due to your religion. If an employee does make a sincere religious objection, the employer must make a thoughtful analysis and accommodation for the employee.  

 

What Can My Employer Do Instead of Requiring Me To Get The Covid-19 Vaccine?

 

Some examples of accommodations can include everything from offering remote working to modifying the employees work space to providing the employee with personal protective equipment.  

 

It’s also worth noting that employers may develop incentive plans to educate and encourage employees to take vaccines as an alternative to outright mandates. Though it might not work for all employers, but is an alternative to help get employees to take vaccines.  

 

No matter what the policy, employees must develop legal policy that complies with both the ADA and Title VII.  

 

To conclude, employers may either require or incentivize their employees to get Covid-19 vaccinations.  While there are exceptions, they are few and far between and can only be used in very certain circumstances. Should an employee face a vaccination mandate, it’s important to carefully consider your options prior to making any objections. 


Can an Iowa Employer Require a Covid Vaccination?
Author

Eugene Nassif

Eugene Nassif is an associate attorney in Des Moines, Iowa. His primary focus is in business and civil litigation matters.

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