Good Question: Can businesses make employees get the vaccine?

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC)—News10NBC’s Brennan Somers has heard from people asking this Good Question: Can employers require a COVID vaccine for workers?

To get that answer, and some more advice, Somers caught up with Matthew Fusco. He spent more than three decades practicing labor and employment law around town.

News10NBC’s Brennan Somers: Can my boss tell me you need to get the vaccine to keep working here?

Fusco: Only if your boss can show it’s essential to the job. If you’ve been working without it, what made it essential now? Just the fact that it’s available? I think your boss would have a hard time proving that. If you’ve been working from home and your boss says we’re eliminating working from home and to come back you have to have a vaccine, that’s probably a legitimate demand.

But is that realistic? A vaccine requirement at work?

Experts say it’s unlikely unless you’re in a high-risk environment like a nursing home or meatpacking plant. Research from the Society for HR Management late last year found only 3% of U.S. groups would mandate it.

Nearly all will just encourage it.

Somers: If I’m getting the vaccine can my bosses ask me if I’ve gotten it?

Fusco: The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says yes your boss can ask you, but your boss may not ask anything further. So. for instance, if your answer is no, your boss may not ask you why. Some people have valid religious convictions that prevent them from getting vaccines. some people may have medical conditions that prevent them from getting vaccines.

Fusco also told Somers if you’re looking for work or want to change jobs the EEOC says businesses can ask applicants if they got the vaccine, but they can’t ask you anything more.


Watch previous Good Question segments here. If you have a question you’d like answered, email