COVID-19 Vaccines: Can a NY employer require you to get one? And should they?

The answer is generally, yes, but first we need to distinguish between a private sector employer and a public- state or city- employer.  In the private sector, employers have the last say. The employee has a choice to make: either get the vaccination or resign.  That being said, as of now, the government has not forced anyone in the private sector to get the vaccine.  Remember, in the private sector the general rule is you can be fired for any reason or no reason as  long as the reason is not discriminatory.  If an employer believes that for the safety of the workplace, everyone must be vaccinated, that is a reasonable business decision to make.

Do you work for the city or the state? You may not be given an ultimatum to be vaccinated or lose your job. But…

According to the NYSBA, If you are a public employee,  the answer may be different.  Certain public employees such as teachers or employees  who are civil servants under Civil Service Law Section 75 have a constitutionally recognized property interest in their job.  Accordingly, before anyone with such an interest can be fired, due process must be satisfied in the form of a hearing.  At such a hearing, likely held before an arbitrator, the employee can give reasons for refusing to get the vaccine or why he/she cannot get the vaccine.  Depending on the reason, the arbitrator can excuse the employee from getting the vaccine or not.  However given that there are significant public health concerns at stake,  it is probable that no arbitrator will excuse an employee from being vaccinated from Covid-19, a highly contagious and deadly virus.

Bottom line, for the safety of your fellow workmates, and especially if you are working an “essential” job, dealing with hundreds of people on a daily basis, your employer, whether public or private, has the right to ask you to be vaccinated, for your well being as much as the well being of others.

More questions? Contact me here.