More First Coast Businesses Roll Out Vaccine Requirements

Jul 29, 2021

Businesses and government agencies are moving to require proof of vaccination as the Delta variant surges in on the First Coast and around the country. 

Employers will need to consider the national legal landscape when determining their policies, according to attorney Lindsay Swiger of Jacksonville employment law firm JacksonLewis. 

“If you are going to roll out a mandatory vaccination policy, you want to make sure you have a process in place for responding to requests for reasonable accommodations from people who may have medical conditions that prevent them from being able to obtain the vaccine; those with sincerely held religious beliefs, pregnant employees who may have been advised by their medical providers not to get the vaccine,” Swiger said. 

Speaking on WJCT News’ First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross Thursday, Swiger said the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission has suggested employers offer masking, social distancing, or remote work as accomodations for employees who request exemptions from workplace vaccination requirements. Swiger suggested employers consult with their legal counsel before rolling out a vaccine requirement. 

Florida businesses are prohibited from asking for proof of vaccination from customers, but they may ask for proof from their employees, according to Swiger. 

In Jacksonville, Mayo Clinic and Ascension St. Vincent’s have instituted vaccine requirements for their staff. Edward Waters University is requiring proof of vaccination for its students, a move that may violate state law

Veterans Affairs became the first federal agency to mandate vaccinations for its staff. 

“We are hearing at JacksonLewis a lot of clients asking whether to initiate a policy to require vaccination to return to the worksite, especially in the area of health care, long term care and childcare,” Swiger said. 

The full interview with Swiger can be heard during the encore of First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross at 8 p.m. on WJCT News 89.9.

Contact Sydney Boles at sboles@wjct.org, or on Twitter at @sydneyboles.