Skip to Main Content

With the uncertainties surrounding the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19), Deutsch Kerrigan faces the same obstacles as many of you, and we continue to adapt to those emerging challenges as we remain open and operating at full strength to serve your needs. In this troubling environment, your DK legal team is ready to assist clients. Our COVID-19 resources provide continuously updated insights and resources on areas of law we feel will be affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

Mar 16, 2020

Deutsch Kerrigan's Response to COVID-19 and Our Continued Commitment to Client Service



Dec 14, 2020

Whether An Employer Can Require Employees to Receive the COVID-19 Vaccination: A New Virus, an Old Question

Written by Mina R. Ghantous

The development and distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations has led the international community to breathe a much-needed, collective sigh of relief. The seismic economic ramifications of the virus have rendered employers decidedly eager to resume business as usual. The availability of a COVID-19 vaccination is being seen as a step in the right direction in terms of both employee safety and operational normalcy. However, though the virus has been catastrophically novel, the domestic legal framework regarding vaccination requirements for employees is far from it. Both the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and Title VII’s protections still apply during, and in the wake of, a pandemic. Can an employer require employees to have the COVID-19 vaccination? The answer here is a conditional “yes.” Many employers undoubtedly see the value in a vaccinated workforce. Pursuant to the Occupational Health and Safety Act’s general duty requirement, employers must provide a workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees. COVID-19 has proven tragically capable of this.

Notwithstanding its potential to minimize this viral threat, requiring vaccination may contravene an employee’s sincerely-held religious belief(s), a right protected by Title VII (applicable to employers with 15 or more employees). In such a case, the employer would have to give the employee a “reasonable accommodation” in lieu of vaccination. This could take the form of requiring increased/enhanced use of personal protection equipment, an altered work schedule, etc. The “reasonable accommodation” requirement is also triggered if an employee’s disability prevents her or him from receiving the vaccine. Like Title VII, the ADA imposes this obligation on employers with 15 or more employees. The point here is that employers must tread carefully. Whether requiring the COVID-19 vaccination is both permissible and feasible will be an analysis unique to each employer. It should be informed by considerations of

  1. employee welfare and safety;
  2. relevant federal and state law, specifically including the ADA and Title VII;
  3. operational flexibility and restraints; and
  4. guidance issued by relevant federal agencies, like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Department of Labor (DOL), and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The operational nimbleness and creativity employers have used to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic thus far will continue to serve them well in deciding whether to require—or not require—their employees to get the COVID-19 vaccination.

  • Kelly Theard construction law attorney

    Kelly E. Theard

    Kelly Theard is a construction lawyer representing general contractors, subcontractors, architects, engineers, program managers and material suppliers in a variety of construction related litigation including construction defect, design and professional liability, and third-party injury claims. She also assists her clients in contract negotiations and pre-claim disputes. Ms. Theard currently serves as the firm's Managing Partner as well as Head of the Construction Practice Group.

    504 593 0667 -

    Full Biography

  • Sean Mount litigation attorney

    Sean P. Mount

    With a special interest in defense litigation, Sean Mount enjoys addressing client problems and crafting a solution that is best suitable for their business. He defends corporate clients and insurance companies in a variety of litigation claims that can arise as a result of today’s competitive legal environment.

    504 593 0653 -

    Full Biography

  • Melissa Lessell professional liability attorney

    Melissa M. Lessell

    Melissa Lessell partners with her clients faced with professional liability and complex commercial litigation matters. She helps professionals navigate through disciplinary actions, ethics investigations, malpractice, negligence and breach of fiduciary duty claims and lawsuits.

    504 593 0689 -

    Full Biography

  • Raymond Lewis litigation attorney

    Raymond C. Lewis

    Raymond C. Lewis knows that an attorney with courtroom experience is a valuable asset to a client and has developed the skills necessary to get through the unexpected hurdles of a courtroom.

    504 593 0697 -

    Full Biography