After the unconditional authorization of Pfizer’s anti-Covid vaccine on Monday, more and more large American companies are taking the step of compulsory vaccination for their employees, and even their customers.
CVS pharmacies, the Chevron oil company, Disney or the Goldman Sachs bank, all have been out of the woods since the start of the week, requiring all or part of their employees to provide proof that they have been vaccinated.
From recommendation to obligation
Since June, and the announcements of the Morgan Stanley bank and the asset manager BlackRock, a few large groups had already dared to change their rhetoric, from recommendation to obligation. Google, Facebook, then Uber, had thus officially banned their premises to employees without a complete vaccination schedule. But the unconditional authorization, formalized on Monday, of the vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech laboratories, seems to have opened the floodgates. A significant number of people reluctant to injections thus put their reserves in part on the account of the status of the Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines, which still only benefited from an emergency authorization in the United States. .
“Do what I did last month: ask your employees to get vaccinated or expose themselves to strict constraints,” US President Joe Biden said on Monday. At the end of July, the Head of State had thus offered federal public employees the choice between vaccination or the obligation to submit to a heavy health protocol with regular tests. On social networks, Internet users accuse companies that have dared to oblige, a profound violation of individual freedoms in a country that has made it a cardinal value. A local elected representative of the Florida lower house, Republican Anthony Sabatini, even introduced a bill to prohibit such a provision.
Limited legal risk
However, many have not yet switched. American Airlines “strongly encourages” its employees to receive their injections, but refuses to force them to do so for the moment. The airline is offering an extra day off and $ 50 for those who take action. On Tuesday, its competitor Delta Air Lines announced that it would impose a health insurance premium of $ 200 per month on unvaccinated employees, to offset “the financial risk posed to the company by the decision not to be vaccinated. According to an internal memo from CEO Ed Bastian.
Among the largest employers in the country, Amazon, Home Depot, FedEx, UPS or Target have not yet spoken of obligation. Even Walmart has imposed vaccination only on employees at its headquarters, not on employees in its stores and warehouses. The general opinion is that the legal risk associated with a binding measure is however minimal, even if it would lead to dismissal.
In May, the federal agency responsible for enforcing laws against discrimination in the workplace (EEOC), indicated that the requirement to show proof of vaccination was not in violation of American labor law. In mid-June, a federal court in Houston dismissed employees of the Houston Methodist Hospital who challenged the establishment’s principle of obligation. In August, Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett refused to forward a similar case to the court.
“Since the beginning of July, we are confident that compulsory vaccination measures are possible (legally), as long as you plan exemptions for health reasons or religious beliefs”, explains Mark Goldstein, specialist in labor law at the firm Reed Smith. “I’m sure there will be remedies, but the courts and the government don’t seem receptive,” the lawyer said. And “I seriously doubt that any of these files will ever reach the Supreme Court.”