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COVID-19 Delta Variant is Causing Employers to Rethink Protocols

Delta StrainAs we approach the one-and-a-half-year mark since the United States shut down due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, more and more companies are moving away from the new norm of working from home.  This brings a slew of new questions that must be answered, and important decisions that must be made, regarding the vaccination statuses of employees.  Some employers, like New York City, will be utilizing strict vaccination requirements for employees, while other, private, employers, may choose to forego any vaccination requirements.  From an employer standpoint, while some may be weary of making this decision to require employees be vaccinated, in general, unless an exception applies such as a documented medical reason or religious reason, private employers have the right to require vaccinations as a prerequisite to employment at said company.  Courts have recently upheld decisions that employers can require vaccinations, including the Houston Methodist Hospital requiring employees be vaccinated, and Indiana University’s new requirement that even students must be vaccinated.

Another employer of note requiring either vaccinations or weekly testing for COVID-19 is New York State.  By Labor Day, all people employed by New York State must either be fully vaccinated, submit to a COVID-19 test weekly, or risk their employment status.  As previously stated, this does not include people with documented medical reasons for not being able to receive the vaccine, or people who do not get the vaccine for religious purposes, however this does not exempt those employees from taking a weekly COVID-19 test, and any unvaccinated employees will be required to always wear a mask while indoors.  In a statement by Governor Andrew Cuomo, he stated that while the testing option will be available for most employees of New York State, the same will not be true for any patient-facing health care workers.  Those working in state hospitals and are patient-facing health care workers will be required to be vaccinated.  However, at this time, since the announcement is fresh, unions and other advocacy groups are looking at their options regarding any change of requirements, as it may be considered a change in the terms and conditions of peoples’ employment and therefor subject to collective bargaining.

This comes at the same time as the Center for Disease Control’s new guidance, asking peoples to go back to wearing masks indoors in places of high occupancy in areas seeing a spike in COVID-19 infection rates.  In New York, in addition to these new rules governing both State and City employees, Governor Cuomo is now asking restaurant owners to stop allowing unvaccinated peoples inside of restaurants to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and the more easily spread Delta variant.  Likewise, and in relation to the rights of private business owners, this also means that any restaurant currently allowing unvaccinated peoples work in these restaurants, may soon decide that they too, like New York State and New York City, will require vaccinations, with the previously stated exceptions, in order to work in these establishments.  While Governor Cuomo has suggested this, some restaurant owners are already pushing back, saying that this sort of restriction will devastate their businesses chances at turning a profit.

With New York City requiring municipal workers to be vaccinated or submit to weekly COVID-19 tests, a rule set to impact over 300,000 employees, it is only a matter of time before more employers join the wave and consider more stringent vaccine and/or testing requirements.  Mayor Bill De Blasio stated this is his hope during the last week of July, urging private employers to “go as far as you can” regarding COVID-19 guidelines.  It is the City’s hope that this rule change will convince currently unvaccinated peoples to get vaccinated in order to avoid the lengthy and oftentimes uncomfortable testing process, one they would have to undergo on a weekly basis.

If you have questions about your rights as an employee or your think that your employer has violated your rights in any way, we can help.  To discuss your situation or to speak to an attorney familiar with workplace rights, contact Borrelli & Associates, P.L.L.C. to schedule a free consultation through one of our websites,,, or any of our phone numbers: (516) 871-4267, (516) ABOGADO, or (212) 679-5000.


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