HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — As the percent of the population that is vaccinated goes up, one question remains on people’s minds: Can employees be forced to get vaccinated?
Essentially, yes. Your employer can require you to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
Rick Barrera, an attorney in Harlingen, told KVEO that “The employer has a duty to create a safe environment, not only for the rest of the employees but the customers that come in.”
Part of that could be mandating their employees get vaccinated.
However, there are ways for those who don’t want to get the vaccine to get around it, similar to the mandatory vaccines for school children.
“Religious objection,” said Barrera. “Or you have a disability that a vaccine could potentially cause some problems with you, the employer has a duty to make a reasonable accommodation for that person.”
Texas is an at-will work state, which means that employers can fire employees “for really no reason at all,” as long as that reason doesn’t violate state or federal laws.
Texas is also a proponent of personal freedoms and individual liberty.
On April 6, Governor Greg Abbott banned state agencies and political entities from creating vaccine passports.
Texas courts could also be sympathetic to employees that don’t want to get vaccinated.
“[Mandatory vaccines] may be something that the person would have to fight, it’s going to be a situationally based analysis,” said Barerra.
Barrera pointed out that much like the pandemic itself, the legal situation surrounding these vaccines is also a new frontier.
It’s uncertain what legal recourse an employee would have if they do want to sue.
“The theme at the end of the day is: ‘is the employer acting reasonably in the circumstances there are, to protect themselves, the public and their employees, etc.’?” said Barrera.
The Texas House of Representatives has a bill, HB 1687, that would make it illegal to discriminate against employees that don’t have a COVID-19 vaccination.
However, that bill is unlikely to pass.