Some employers may follow requirement for workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19

Nick Natario Image
Friday, July 30, 2021
Some employers now requiring COVID vaccine for workers
After President Joe Biden announced a federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate, legal experts anticipate more companies will implement something similar.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- After President Joe Biden announced a federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate, legal experts anticipate more companies will implement something similar.

Thousands of federal workers were told on Thursday to either get vaccinated or their work-life would be more difficult. Biden said unvaccinated federal workers will have to wear masks, test more, and may not travel.

It's a mandate that's been getting mixed reviews by neighbors.

"I believe they should just go head-on. The president should go head-on and order that everybody has it done," Beatrice Mitchell told ABC13. "If they want a job, and they want to take care of their families, then they'll do it."

SEE ALSO: Federal workers required to get vaccinated or face mandatory masking, weekly testing, distancing

"It's your body," Val Vera told ABC13. "The whole, 'Your Body, Your Choice [movement,]' does that not apply to vaccines?"

COVID-19 employer vaccine mandates may not only be coming for federal workers, but labor attorney David Quan explained others could be coming.

"I do think it's very likely we're going to see more private employers take that step," Quan said.

In Texas, it's illegal for a business to ask for customers' proof of vaccination, but Quan says it's not illegal for private businesses to require the vaccine for its workers. It's something Houston Methodist recently did, and about 150 people lost their jobs.

SEE ALSO: 153 Houston Methodist workers out of jobs after vaccine protest

Even if the drugs are only for emergency authorization use, Quan said an employer can mandate it.

"I do believe Moderna and Pfizer are about to get full FDA authorization," Quan explained. "In addition to that, as we saw in the Houston Methodist case, many judges are not going to be receptive to that argument."

As more workers return to the office this summer and fall, if you have safety concerns, Quan suggests you address your employer. If nothing changes, contact the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and file a complaint.

As far as the vaccine, Quan says you can lose your job. If you do, the Texas Workforce Commission told ABC13 you may still be eligible to receive unemployment benefits, but it's on a case-by-case basis. This debate should intensify after Biden's announcement on Thursday.

"I really believe that if they do get the shot, if there's a chance that they get the COVID, they'll live," Mitchell said.

"I don't think anything should be mandated, what you're putting into your body at all," Vera said. "I do not approve of that."

In response to Biden's announcement, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton released the following statement:

"I will always fight to protect the individual rights of Texans to decide what is best for themselves and their families. I will continue to oppose the Biden Administration as Democrats demonstrate their willingness to sacrifice freedom for government control."