Legal Developments Regarding Employees Testing Positive and Firing Unvaccinated Employees


group of people in casual business attireEastman & Smith attorneys continue to inform regarding legal developments surrounding COVID-19 (a.k.a coronavirus).  The Society for Human Resource Professionals (SHRM) quoted two of our attorneys in articles regarding vaccination procedures.  SHRM is an international organization comprised of human resource professionals and executives.  To learn more about SHRM, please visit its web site.

When An Employee Tests Positive

The first article outlined steps an employer should take when an employee tests positive for COVID-19 under the emergency temporary standard.  "Keeping employees healthy and working should remain a priority,” associate Lindsey K. Self tells readers.  (For more on OSHA’s ETS, please see “OSHA Issues Highly Anticipated Emergency Temporary Standards,” on this site.)  Ms. Self has nearly a decade of experience as a human resource professional, having worked in HR for several manufacturing companies, a staffing agency and a college.  As an attorney she provides advice on a variety of employment issues.  She is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) by the HR Certification Institute and as a Certified Professional by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM-CP).

Firing Unvaccinated Workers

A subsequent article addresses firing unvaccinated workers when the employer has a mandatory vaccination policy rather than instituting other disciplinary actions like withholding pay raises.  According to the article, there are legal issues to be considered such as punitive measures not addressing health risks or leading to legal actions on other grounds like pay equality.  Eastman & Smith member Brigid E. Heid states that such actions “are likely to be considered coercive and prohibited for any employer involved in the vaccine’s administration . . . for other employers, the disincentives likely would be allowed.”  Ms. Heid is a member of the Firm whose legal practice encompasses counseling businesses on best practices and procedures, handbooks, wage and hour, employee leave and discipline, EEO, internal investigations, and protecting intellectual property and confidential information.

For questions regarding employment issues involving COVID-19, please contact one of our labor and employment attorneys.