On December 16, 2020, Logos Associate Holly Helstrom was quoted in an article on Healthline on how at-will employers can mandate a COVID-19 vaccine for their employees.
Helstrom, an an Adjunct Instructor at Columbia University’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering who teaches a course on First Amendment rights for employees, explained that an employer has the legal right to mandate policies around lifestyle choices and employers have fired people for lifestyle choices in the past.
“Employers can and have fired employees based on lifestyle choices related to their health, including if they smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol,” she said. “Refusal to get a COVID vaccine if your employer is requiring one could get you fired and your employer would be within their legal rights to do so.”
Helstrom explained that, “your employer is within their legal rights to require you to get a COVID vaccine, if you work for a private sector at-will employer.” However, she did note that rules around vaccination for unionized workers “would likely be a subject for bargaining.”