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April 1, 2021

As California continues the vaccine rollout and expands eligibility to individuals 16 and older, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”) has recently provided guidance, similar to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, that employers may require at-will employees to receive vaccines issued under the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization procedures. While the DFEH is giving the green light to companies to mandate the vaccine for at-will employees, such a policy can create additional liability exposure for employers who fail to implement vaccination policies that are not in line with broader FEHA obligations and other legal protections. Employers must be careful and diligent about providing disability, religious, and other protected characteristic-related accommodations and must prepare for how they will handle employees who refuse to get vaccinated. Further, employers cannot discriminate, retaliate, or harass employees who choose to exercise their rights and request accommodations in this regard. Accordingly, the pros and cons of a vaccine mandate should be weighed carefully before deciding whether mandating the vaccine is right for your business.

In related quarantine news, California Department of Public Health recently amended its travel advisory. As of April 2, 2021, fully vaccinated persons can travel safely within the United States and California. Further, fully vaccinated travelers are not required to test or quarantine before or after travel unless they have COVID-19 concerning symptoms. This is a welcome update for employers previously required to comply with an employee’s quarantine, which included the obligation to pay employees for that time where applicable, prior to the employee returning to work due to travel. Nevertheless, there are many factors that go into travel, such as requirements mandated by the location one is traveling from and to, that need to be considered when handling employees’ travel plans and return to work criteria. It is critical to stay up to date on the guidelines and rules related to travel as they are constantly changing.

If you have any questions regarding vaccine related policies and/or how these developments impact your business, please contact PB&W’s employment law department for further guidance and assistance.

The content of this is not intended to provide legal advice. Distribution and use of this material is for educational use only and is not intended as consideration for future business. This document is the property of Pearlman, Brown & Wax and may not be further distributed without express written permission.


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