NYSBA Calls For All New York Employers To Mandate Worker Vaccinations As Delta Variant Spreads

By Susan DeSantis

NYSBA Calls For All New York Employers To Mandate Worker Vaccinations As Delta Variant Spreads

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The New York State Bar Association is recommending that every employer in the state require that all workers except those with legitimate medical conditions or religious exemptions be vaccinated.

In keeping with the guidelines laid out in a far-reaching report prepared by the association’s Emergency Task Force on Mandatory Vaccination and Safeguarding The Public’s Health and approved today by the Executive Committee, NYSBA is urging that all its own members get vaccinated and requiring all its staff to do so by Sept. 7.

NYSBA is also calling on all New York law firms and bar associations to follow its lead, and, as the report suggests, allow exemptions to vaccine mandates only for legitimate medical conditions and/or religious concerns.

“Make no mistake about it, the pandemic is not yet over in New York or elsewhere,” said T. Andrew Brown, president of the New York State Bar Association. “To safeguard public health, we must do everything within our legal powers to make sure everyone gets vaccinated. The science and the law are on our side in this effort, in which we must take action to safeguard the largest number of people possible and cannot be held hostage to the opposition of an outspoken minority.”

Following the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine this week, a growing number of public and private sector employers have announced vaccine mandates and are requiring weekly testing or increased healthcare premiums for those who refuse to comply. Following FDA  approval, the Pentagon mandated that all active duty and reserve U.S. military personnel be vaccinated.

In addition, the task force report recommends that all New York students eligible to be vaccinated should be required to do so in order to register for and attend middle or high school as well as college, and that the vaccination be mandatory for all teachers, professors, and staff. NYSBA calls on the state Legislature to require all elementary school children get vaccinated once the FDA indicates that it is safe to so do for that age group. Masks should also be required for everyone who enters an education facility across the state, according to the report.

“There is no doubt that the common-sense recommendations in this report are legally permitted, and the courts time and again have upheld the government’s right to keep its citizens safe from public health threats,” said Dr. Mary Beth Morrissey, chair of the task force and a public health law attorney, research fellow at Fordham University’s Global Health Care Innovation Management Center and a faculty member in the graduate schools.

The report also calls on the governor to mandate that all state employees and those who work for state contractors be vaccinated and wear masks during work hours. This is aimed in part at making sure that immigrants in civil detention centers – including pregnant women — are protected.

The report strongly encourages voluntary vaccination and maintains that the state Department of Health should direct all counties to draft and implement a plan for reaching out to unvaccinated individuals by Sept. 30. The state Department of Corrections should make the vaccine available in all its facilities and DMV should make the vaccine available at all locations to further expedite the inoculation of vulnerable populations.

To help all lawyers working for employers who are requiring vaccination, NYSBA will conduct the webinar, “Mandating Your Employees Get Vaccinated? What New York Lawyers Need To Know.” It will be held on Friday, Sept. 3, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Michael Passarella, a partner at Olshan and member of the NYSBA Emergency Task Force on Mandatory Vaccination and Safeguarding the Public’s Health, is the featured speaker.

In November of 2020, NYSBA’s House of Delegates approved resolutions from a task force report recommending that public health authorities make the vaccine mandatory if voluntary means fail to stop the virus’ spread. The current task force built upon the work of the first task force.

About the New York Bar Association
The New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Since 1876, the Association has helped shape the development of law, educated and informed the legal profession and the public, and championed the rights of New Yorkers and others through advocacy and guidance.

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Contact: Susan DeSantis
[email protected]
201-575-5756

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