Legal Alert: New York City Mandates All Employers to Require Employees to be Vaccinated Against COVID-19
On December 6, 2021, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that by December 27, 2021, all private employers in the City must require all of their employees to have received at least one dose of a vaccination against COVID-19. The new mandate does not apply to employees who work remotely. Until now, private employers had discretion whether to require their workforce to be vaccinated or to observe other precautionary measures such as mask-wearing and social distancing. New York City employers were already subject to the New York State HERO Act, which requires private sector employers to implement plans against airborne infectious diseases, including COVID-19.
Much about the new requirement remains unknown, including any penalties for non-compliance, and how employers should respond to employees who request religious or medical accommodations. Businesses should be aware that New York City requires any employer who receives such a request to engage in a cooperative dialogue with their employees, which includes giving the requesting employee a written response to the request at their conclusion of the process. As such, employers should have a clear policy regarding how employees can make such requests and how the employer will maintain potentially confidential information.
The new rule will almost certainly face legal challenges. It is anticipated that the City will provide additional guidance regarding implementation and enforcement by December 15. Kane Kessler will continue to monitor the new requirement and will endeavor to provide updates as soon as new information becomes available.
The attorneys in Kane Kessler’s Labor & Employment Practice Group are available to help clients navigate implementation of the new mandate and respond to employees who seek exemptions from complying. If you have any questions, please contact the Co-Chairs of Kane Kessler’s Labor & Employment Practice Group, Valerie K. Ferrier at 212-519-5107, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Jeffrey G. Douglas at 212-519-5183, email@example.com.