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5 things St. Louis employers need to know about their employees and vaccines

A local labor and employment lawyer cautions employers to be aware of what's OK and what isn't
Credit: AP
FILE - In this Jan. 12, 2021, file photo a pharmacist draws saline while preparing a dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine in Sacramento, Calif. Mutations to the virus are rapidly popping up and the longer it takes to vaccinate people, the more likely it is that a variant that can elude current tests, treatments and vaccines could emerge. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, Pool, File)

ST. LOUIS — With the rollout of a coronavirus vaccine in the U.S., a Polsinelli labor and employment lawyer cautions employers to be aware of what's OK and what isn't as employees return to the office.

Lilian Davis, a shareholder at the firm, counsels clients on management, compliance and regulatory issues and investigates and responds to charges of employment discrimination. Her warnings about vaccine legal dos and don'ts:

1. Employers can require employees to get a vaccine as a condition of employment, subject to limited exemptions. "Employers have an obligation under OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) to provide a safe workplace for employees," Davis said. "If something poses a direct threat to employees, employers can do what is needed. One of those things may be a vaccination."

2. Employees can request an exemption from a mandatory vaccination requirement based on their religious beliefs. "Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act covers protected groups, including those with religious beliefs," Davis said. "Employers must provide accommodations for employees with 'sincerely held' religious beliefs."

3. Employees can request an exemption from a mandatory vaccination requirement based on a disability. "If employees have a medical reason not got get a vaccine, employers must accommodate that under the ADA, or Americans with Disabilities Act," she said.

Click here for the full story from the St. Louis Business Journal.

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