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Getting Answers: Can employers require staff to get vaccinated?

greg guidry
Posted at 10:20 PM, Aug 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-03 23:32:39-04

LAFAYETTE, La. — Hospitals in the state saw the most COVID cases on Tuesday since the pandemic began.

2,112 people are hospitalized with the virus. Of those, 222 are using ventilators.

KATC’s Victor Jorges is getting answers on whether or not companies are legally allowed to require staff to receive a vaccine. This comes as Franciscan Missionaries Of Our Lady Health System, who oversees Our Lady Of Lourdes in Acadiana, announced their employees will have to get the vaccine between now and December.

Across the health system, not just at Our Lady Of Lourdes, 64 percent of employees are vaccinated. For that other 36 percent, KATC wanted to know if what they’re requiring has legal backing.

“Yes,” said Greg Guidry, who represents management in labor cases.

He says companies covered by title seven and that have more than 15 employees are quote certainly allowed to mandate vaccination for their workers.

“With a couple of exceptions,” he said. “If an employee raises a sincerely held religious belief, as the reason for not getting vaccinated, or raises a medical or disability issue or is pregnant and resists it, employers are required to go through what we call the interactive process.”

That’s a process in which the employee and company talk about a potential accommodation route. Meanwhile, the health system says they predict several weeks or months before the peak of this surge is reached.

President and CEO Richard R. Vath in a statement said, “We must act now to protect each other from spreading the delta variant and protect vulnerable patients from exposure. Vaccines are the best means of accomplishing this and more important than ever as the lasting step to end this pandemic.”

KATC reached out to see what the consequences will be for those who refuse.

We're told hospital leadership must be vaccinated by the end of October or face unpaid leave. If they are not vaccinated by the end of November, they will be terminated.

Meanwhile, hospital staff must be vaccinated by the end of November or face unpaid leave. If they are not vaccinated by the end of December, they will be terminated.

Guidry says the way the laws are written right now forms a two-way street.

“The employers generally have the duty to provide a safe workplace,” he said. “At the same time the employee, under current law, is given the opportunity to raise legitimate objections.”

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