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Is it legal for your work to require vaccinations? Yes, legal experts say

WMUR Manchester logo WMUR Manchester 5/21/2021
a person wearing a mask: vaccination © Provided by WMUR Manchester vaccination

As COVID-19 vaccines become more readily available, some workplaces are now requiring them for employees, something that experts said is legal, but there are some exemptions.

From private businesses to colleges and universities to the health care sector, more employers are making the COVID-19 vaccine a requirement for their employees.

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"Typically, you're seeing that at hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and the like," said employment attorney Jim Reidy.

Reidy said he has been receiving more calls recently about the legalities of such a requirement. Highlighting guidance from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Reidy said workplaces can mandate vaccines.

"What the EEOC said was, employers can mandate the vaccine if it's job-related and it's consistent with business necessity, so that leaves it kind of wide open," he said.

New England College in Henniker just announced its plan to require vaccines for students and staff.

"The relationship in a private university is basically considered a relationship contract," said labor and employment lawyer Jon Meyer. "So basically, the university can set whatever requirements it wants to set."


Video: Colleges, employers legally allowed to require vaccinations, experts say (WMUR Manchester)

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There are legal exemptions no matter where you work, Meyer said.

"If someone was medically unable or unsafe for medical reasons to take a vaccination, they may well have a right to be reasonably accommodated by not requiring a vaccine," he said.

Both attorneys said another exemption from a vaccine requirement would be for religious reasons, adding that the law requires that private employers accommodate religious beliefs and practices.

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