NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - We’ve seen medical workers celebrating the arrival of a COVID-19 vaccine, but not everyone is jumping to be first in line.

And when it comes to employers, some are wondering if their job can force them to get the vaccine.

“It’s a brand-new world I think for employment lawyers.”

A brand-new world, with employees wondering if they can be forced to get the vaccine. Lawyers say, perhaps.

“If we’re talking about just a run of the mill office setting or something like that, then the employer’s justification would be that this is necessary for the safety and protection of the workplace.”

According to the EEOC, COVID-19 absolutely counts as a ‘direct threat.’

But two longstanding exceptions still apply. Employers must make reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act to someone with a pertinent medical condition.

The same goes under Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act for a “sincerely held religious belief.”

If you fall under one of those two categories the EEOC says “if there is no reasonable accommodation — it would be lawful for the employer to exclude the employee from the workplace.”

That does not equal termination.

The EEOC also says employers would need to look at other federal, state and local laws before determining whether they can require vaccination.

It’s sure to be something employers wrestle with in the new year, and News4 will be tracking any guidance from the state as the vaccine reaches the general population. 

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