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Lawyer warns of risk in employee vaccination incentive programs

Published: Mar. 18, 2021 at 5:44 AM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Getting workers vaccinated is a top priority for many employers. A local lawyer at Fennemore Craig said businesses need to consider possible legal pitfalls when offering an employee incentives to get vaccinated.

Shannon Pierce said some businesses are incentivizing employees to get the vaccine with a day off or a gift card. However, Pierce said employers should also be aware of possible legal discrimination against those who choose not to get the vaccine.

According to Pierce, some people don’t want to get the vaccine because of a medical issue or religious belief.

“Its always a possibility if you are treating people differently based on a medical condition or based on a religious belief that can lead to litigation, whether that’s related to the gift card or beyond that,” said Pierce.

She said some businesses are taking a more collective approach.

“You can simply say if we get to 80% of our workforce vaccinated, everybody gets a day off or something like that, those are the types of issues that businesses are trying to figure out,” Pierce said.

She added, “There is concern about potential discrimination claims when incentives are rolled out by a person to person basis.”

Pierce said having a medical condition that arises to the level of disability or having a bonified religious belief can be protected under state and federal disability law.

She said businesses who are considering a vaccination incentive program should seek guidance from legal counsel.

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