Fact Finders: Employee vs. Employer rights on COVID-19 vaccination cards

May an employer ask to see your COVID-19 vaccination card?
Updated: May. 26, 2021 at 9:51 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Springfield’s mask mandate ends late Thursday night. That means more workers who’ve been at home will be back in the office soon.

So, Fact Finders is getting several questions like this one; May an employer ask to see your COVID-19 vaccination card? The answer is -- YES.

Saint Louis University Professor of Law Robert Gatter told us no law prohibits an employer from asking for this information.

An employer can also require you to have the vaccine in order to keep your job. This will be a big issue if you’re working with a vulnerable population like people in a nursing home thanks to an OSHA law created five decades ago.

“The general duty is to maintain a safe workplace and so I think a lot of employers genuinely think that this is an aspect of their responsibility,” added Robert Gatter’s colleague Matthew Bodie, also a Professor of Law at Saint Louis University.

“An employer could be liable for failing to create and maintain a safe business environment if the employer does not know the vaccination status of its employees. Imagine, for example, if an unvaccinated nursing home aide were to infect a resident and the nursing home—as the aide’s employer—didn’t know that it’s employee was unvaccinated because the nursing home never asked, the law could find that the nursing home is partly responsible for the harm to the resident because the nursing home failed to learn who among their staff was and wasn’t vaccinated,” commented Gatter.

There are two big exceptions to all of this. One applies to disabled workers. If getting the vaccine would put your health in danger, your employer can’t require you to get it. There’s also a religious exception.

Otherwise, Arkansas and Missouri are at-will states. That means, in general, employers have the right to terminate you for almost any reason.

Now, there is a group from Texas challenging an employer’s right to require COVID-19 vaccinations. University of Missouri Law Professor Sam Halabi to us there’s no clear ruling on their legal theory which centers around the Emergency Use Authorization of the vaccines. So, any challenges could take years to go through the courts.

At this point, many employers are offering incentives to get employees vaccinated. Fewer are requiring COVID-19 vaccinations.

The Kaiser Family Foundation recently reviewed the incentives among the largest and most influential Fortune 500 companies. See their report here: Corporations Encourage Employee Vaccination but Stop Short of Mandates

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