Can Businesses Require Proof Of Vaccination? Experts Say Yes

No business owner or employee who asks a customer for proof of vaccination would be imprisoned for life or face the death penalty. Legal experts say businesses are allowed to ask for proof of vaccination from customers. In some states, certain businesses are required to ask about vaccination status under current reopening guidelines. As the national COVID-19 vaccination drive continues and workplaces navigate reopenings, some question whether businesses and employers can request proof of vaccination given patient privacy laws, like HIPAA. Nancy Kass, a professor of bioethics and public health at Johns Hopkins University, says she understands why businesses would want to require patrons to prove they’ve been vaccinated.

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  • Those cases dealt with individuals that had a right to be excluded from a mandate and either involve a disability or religious aspect.
  • In some states, certain businesses are required to ask about vaccination status under current reopening guidelines.
  • While your vaccine card does qualify as protected health information, HIPAA health care privacy laws only apply to the medical industry, not restaurants and businesses, which can generally refuse service to anyone.
  • This timeline shows the three most recent updates related to proof-of-vaccination requirements and state employee vaccination requirements.
  • “A single store will not give the security because as you leave it and you go to the next store, you no longer have that requirement.”

But it’s still up to businesses if – and how – to check if customers are vaccinated. Some states have taken the view that, because COVID vaccines do not guarantee 100% protection against the virus, proof of vaccination only demonstrates an individual is less likely to contract and transmit the virus. It is also the case nobody knows for sure how long vaccine-induced immunity lasts. Therefore, it is possible an individual with a vaccine passport can still present a risk of infection. The laws enforced by the EEOC prohibit covered employers from selecting people for furlough or layoff because of that individuals race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, protected genetic information, or in retaliation for protected EEO activity. As state restrictions continue to get lifted, Lessing’s doesn’t foresee asking customers for vaccination proof in the future unless mandated, says Kirschbaum, noting they’ll continue to adhere to all required safety measures.

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Several states have also voiced opposition to proof of vaccination requirements. In Texas, Idaho, Montana, Arizona, Florida and Utah, state officials have passed legislation or handed down executive orders that limit the use of vaccination passports. However, measures in those states only apply to government entities and state-funded organizations, not privately-owned businesses. According to Harris Poll data provided exclusively to CBS News, 59% of those surveyed have heard “a lot” or “quite a bit” about the concept of vaccine passports, while 41% have heard “not much” or “nothing at all” about them. And while most of those polled supported requiring something like a vaccine passport for flying on a plane (68% supported the idea) sporting events (61%), concerts (60%) and attending college (60%), only 46% said proof of vaccination should be required to enter a store. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has established that employers—including healthcare providers when acting solely in their role as employers—may ask an employee about vaccination status without violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act .

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“We were grateful to see that because we know that it’s going to be incredibly hard to administer,” Schaefer said. “Different companies and different businesses are going to choose to do that. Others are not.” For some businesses, allowing only vaccinated patrons inside is a means of ensuring they are keeping their communities as safe as possible. “The whole point of our change is to say to people, ‘There are benefits to being vaccinated,'” Cuomo said at a news conference on Monday. New York’s Radio City Music Hall is also planning to reopen at full capacity next month for the final night of the Tribeca Film Festival — but only for vaccinated people, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said this week.

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Where an employer is considering introducing this requirement, we strongly recommend they get specialist advice first. This story has been updated to clarify that the vaccination attributes are available to all businesses on Yelp. A legal expert said it’s entirely possible that some documents “are nowhere to be found because they are already with someone else.” A federal judge who approved a special master to review documents from Mar-a-Lago repeatedly expressed concerns about “fairness” for Donald Trump.

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It would however be a HIPAA violation for the employees healthcare provider to disclose that information to the employer unless the individual had provided authorization to do so. For instance, if someone is allergic to a component commonly found in vaccines, they may be unable to be fully vaccinated. In that case, businesses would need to provide reasonable accommodation by law. That might mean that unvaccinated customers can only enter a business if they wear a mask or are offered a virtual, no contact version of the service that the business provides. Almost 20 states have limited state government from requiring proof of vaccination status. Instead, they’re letting private businesses make their own decisions, while other states have placed no limits on state government or private business inquiries about vaccination status, Nelson said.

While the EEOC has confirmed that you can lawfully ask employees their vaccination status without violating federal anti-discrimination laws , what about other privacy laws? Specifically, what about the often-misunderstood HIPAA, seemingly cited by anyone who disagrees with any sort of COVID-19 safety protocols? This Insight will untangle the myths from reality and provide employers with practical and legally correct guidance on this subject. Additionally, businesses can generally deny entry to unvaccinated customers, provided they offer reasonable accommodations for people who might be unable to receive a vaccine because of a disability, a medical condition or their religious beliefs.

Olson said he’s wondered where DeSantis’ authority to restrict the freedom of private businesses lies. This seems to have become a million-dollar question that employers want to pose to their workers, but confusion abounds regarding the legal contours of this deceptively dangerous question. Many employers continue to wonder about the legal implications of asking an employees vaccination status.

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