Many of our New Jersey business clients are considering whether to require that their workers get vaccinated against COVID-19 before they return to the workplace. However, we have cautioned our clients that employers must be careful to balance the need to keeping their workplaces safe against employees who may resist vaccination based upon religious, medical or simply personal reasons. Employers must be cognizant of the discrimination laws which may be applicable including the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“NJLAD”) which is one of the most comprehensive workplace protection laws in the nation. The NJLAD protects more than a dozen classes including religion, disability and other protected characteristics in employment, housing, and places of public accommodation (places open to the public, including businesses, schools, medical providers. Employers also have to be very careful in asking questions about employees during the prescreening and follow up stages of vaccination.
Some employers may simply want to mandate that employees take the vaccine but given these complexities, it may be better to strongly encourage or incentivize the vaccine to avoid the potential for these types of issues including discrimination. Policies need to be well thought out and implemented to make sure that these potential issues are balanced between safety in the workplace and the rights of individual employees. If we can offer some advice or assistance, please let us know.