The time has come for employers to stop mandating COVID vaccines and boosters for their employees as a condition of employment.
At worst, these policies have forced employees nationwide to become vaccinated under threat of immediate termination, with few exceptions for medical or religious reasons. At best, the policies have resulted in the banishment of noncompliant employees to the solitude of their homes, where they work without knowing if or when they will be allowed back to their offices to see their colleagues, clients, and friends.
As an employment lawyer with a master’s degree in public health (obtained during the height of the pandemic), I have supported the widespread use of COVID vaccines and related safety measures. I am vaccinated and boosted myself and do not regret making those decisions. My vaccinations and boosters, however, did not stop me from coming down with COVID earlier this year.
Regardless of one’s thinking on COVID vaccines in general, several developments over the past eight months have shifted the analysis regarding workplace vaccine mandates. When taken into consideration, I believe these developments make a strong case for why employers should now reverse course and rescind their mandates. After all, the scientific community would tell us that when information changes, our response should change accordingly. To do otherwise would be to ignore science.
First, the currently available vaccines do little to prevent infection, i.e., little to prevent someone from catching COVID. This is because the vaccines have not kept pace with the newer COVID variants currently circulating throughout the country and world. There is therefore no longer any legitimate reason, under employment law or the principles of public health practice, to discharge or otherwise discipline someone over a refusal to get vaccinated or boosted, regardless of whether they otherwise have a good reason for an exemption.
Second, and equally important, we are experiencing a shortage of employees to fill the many open jobs across the nation. Firing and disciplining non-compliant employees, or not hiring them in the first place, because they refuse to get a vaccine that is now of little use in preventing an infection is both scientifically unjustified and economically negligent. This is especially true for companies that allow workers to telecommute yet still seek to enforce vaccine mandates.
Even medical employers have stopped requiring their patient-facing employees to get vaccinated and boosted. Some of the nation’s most liberal school districts have similarly rescinded their mandates, for both teachers and students. If medical and educational institutions recognize the shortcomings of the current vaccines, America’s major corporations should be no different.
It is time to act responsibly, put politics aside, and remove another issue that needlessly divides the country. That is not to say that the scientific community should give up on developing new, more effective vaccines. This can still be accomplished without threatening employees’ livelihoods over something that, at least for now, has been proven quite unnecessary.
John-Paul Singh Deol is Partner and Head of Employment Law at the Dhillon Law Group and has extensive experience representing C-level and VP-level executives.
The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.