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Can An Employer Mandate A COVID Vaccine?

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – As the delta variant rages, private businesses are tightening up on employees. Many are now asking for a vaccination as a requirement for employment.

But can a boss do that?

"I am saying to them 'yes,' from a legal point of view you do have that right," said Porpoise Evans, a Florida labor attorney that represents employers.

Evans' opinion is pretty much a standard view. But with the vaccine controversy on the front burner, what if an employee or potential employee does not want to be vaccinated?

"Employers are in a tough position. They are balancing a lot of interests. One primary interest is safety of the work place," Evans said.

So what to do for the employer and the employee? The issue can be worked out. It's particularly important with the lack of applicants for jobs, leaving many employers scrambling.

There are accommodations employers can make in the work place, such as allowing employees to work from home, weekly testing, socially distancing and mask wearing.

"It would be a hard sell to say they are being discriminated against requiring them to wear a masks if they don't want to be vaccinated," Evans said.

Can an employee opt out due to religious beliefs? Yes, but it is a difficult path. Employers can ask for a letter from a religious leader.

"If you are going to challenge the sincerity of the belief, you need to have really solid ground to do so," Evans said.

If the issue can't be worked out and accommodations can't be reached, Evans said, "It is not recommended to fire immediately but ultimately that might be the result."

According to the CDC, there is not a federal law that specifically addresses the private business vaccination requirement.

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