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Can businesses require employees to receive COVID-19 vaccine?

Attorneys split on whether employers can mandate vaccines
Posted at 4:17 PM, Mar 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-26 20:08:21-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Can an employer require workers to get a COVID-19 vaccine?

The question is sparking a lot of debate across South Florida as the vaccine rollout continues.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has said he will not issue a state mandate requiring a vaccine.

However, attorneys have mixed opinions about the matter.

"I would venture that there can be no requirement that a business requires its employees to be vaccinated," attorney Michael Pike said Friday. "It opens the door to way too much liability and the violation of many different laws, including the Florida Constitution and the United States Constitution, and also HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) violations as well."

But attorney William Julien disagreed.

"Under almost every circumstance, they do have the right to tell an employee to take a vaccine under the employment-at-will doctrine, (which) is a legal term in Florida that says employees don't have any rights if they're not a member of a union and the employer can do whatever they want," Julien said.

Anthony Barber is preparing to open his third Troy's Barbecue location in West Palm Beach in just a few weeks.

"It's never been a requirement of mine to force something that's not otherwise required at any other place on anyone else," he said.

Barber believes his employees should make their own choices.

"I'm going to have a medical professional come in and speak to my staff," Barber said. "So I feel like I want to empower them with the information so that they can make an informed decision for themselves."