The COVID-19 mask mandate, mostly, has been taken off the backs of Americans just this week, and Joe Biden’s White House credits the vaccines, which were developed under President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed program, for raising the general level of immunity to COVID-19.
So a lot schools and universities and other organizations have made those vaccinations mandatory to attend coming classes and events.
But for employers, such a demand also could create a serious liability.
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration has released guidance that notes, “In general, an adverse reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine is recordable if the reaction is: (1) work-related, (2) a new case, and (3) meets one or more of the general recording criteria in 29 CFR 1904.7 (e.g., days away from work, restricted work or transfer to another job, medical treatment beyond first aid).”
Further, OSHA explains, “If you require your employees to be vaccinated as a condition of employment (i.e., for work-related reasons), then any adverse reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine is work-related. The adverse reaction is recordable if it is a new case under 29 CFR 1904.6 and meets one or more of the general recording criteria in 29 CFR 1904.7.”
Liberty Counsel, a legal team that advocates for individual and religious rights, notes that to avoid liability, employers “should not require employees to receive any COVID shot.”
Doing otherwise could impact their official safety record.
“Some employers are now offering financial incentives, opportunities to win prizes, or paid time off to receive the COVID shots. Employees who chose not to receive the ‘voluntary’ injection and therefore miss an opportunity to receive a prize could argue they suffered ‘repercussions’ for their choice,” the legal team continued.
“In addition, the ‘professional advancement’ of an unvaccinated employee who is not permitted to work at a particular job site may be affected.”
Liberty Counsel explained that none of the new COVID shots is approved or licensed by the Food and Drug Administration yet. They’ve been in use under the Emergency Use Authorization, which technically means that cannot be forced or required.
They were given emergency use authorization by the Health and Human Services department last year, which means people must be told the risks and benefits, and they have the right to decline a medication that is not fully licensed.
“In addition to this federal law, the FDA includes the Nuremberg Code and the Helsinki Declaration on its website, emphasizing the fact that people cannot be forced to take experimental drugs without their full consent,” Liberty Counsel said.
“Forcing employees to receive one of these experimental COVID injections is a violation of federal law. The COVID injections are not licensed by the FDA and are still in the investigation and experimental phase. No employer or government may force or coerce anyone to take these injections. Federal law requires full informed consent. Employers that require employees to take a COVID shot may be held liable for adverse reactions and death,” said Liberty Counsel chief Mat Staver.
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