Legislation proposed in many states that would stop employers prescribing COVID-19 vaccinations and protect those who refuse to be vaccinated is unlikely to do so in many statutes, but the measures could still cause problems for employers.
Even if only a handful of states pass legislation, it would hinder a well-functioning, uniform policy for employers with operations in multiple jurisdictions, experts say.
"It can be a minefield for employers," said Kevin J. O & # 39; Connor, co-chair, work and employment practice at Peckar & Abramson PC in River Edge, New Jersey.
At present, the bills are generally still in committee and have not received much attention, observers say.
A survey conducted by the law firm Husch Blackwell LLP earlier this month found some variation among government bills.
Several would allow vaccinations from employers, but extend the religious exceptions required by federal law to recognize "any philosophical objection or objection from the conscience," according to the analysis.
Others would ban employer-sponsored vaccinations directly, while some would only allow them for those working in a care facility. A survey by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research in February showed that one-third of American adults are skeptical of COVID-1
Employment experts generally recommend employers. to encourage their workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 but recommend that they do not require it, even if they can do so legally.
The concept that employers have certain rights with regard to vaccinations is not new, with employers in health care, for For example, for a long time allowed to order flu shots in certain cases.
But "over the past year, COVID has really changed the discussion and the dynamics," says Aimee E. Delaney, a partner with Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP in Chicago.
Employers already face restrictions under federal and state laws that they may require to get a vaccination based on religious beliefs and medical issues, observers said.
But few of the bills that allow w ider exceptions are expected to pass.
"It seems that these bills are not very successful, and I really hope they will not be," says Robin E. Shea, a partner with Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete LLP in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
There must be exceptions for workers in health care as well as in public works, such as retail or restaurant workers, and those who do not "just go into their own individual offices and close their doors," she said.
As a practical issue, the bills would have a limited effect if adopted, as few employers order vaccinations, in part due to legal issues surrounding housing, says Eric B. Meyer, a partner at FisherBroyles LLP in Philadelphia.  Legislation preventing forced vaccinations "sounds more like political theater," he said.
Mario R. Bordogna, a member of the Clark Hill PLC in Morgantown, Pennsylvania, said that a potential problem with such legislation is employees who refuse vaccinations and are then terminated may argue that it was due to their anti-vaccination position.
But, "even if the bills do not go through, employers should take to heart that they are proposed when considering a mandate vaccine policy, because it shows you the hostility out there against requiring a vaccine," says Karla Grossenbacher, a partner with Seyfarth Shaw LLP in Washington.
Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, a law professor at the University of C California Hastings College of Law in Berkeley, who is a vaccine expert, says that ways to receive employees who do not want to be vaccinated include wearing extra personal protective equipment, allowing them to work on site , give them personal leave or provide incentives as a reward for receiving the vaccine.