COVID-19 vaccine

Can Your Employer Require You to Get the COVID-19 Vaccine?

Labor attorneys say they can, but likely won't take that step

NBC Universal, Inc.

With vaccines widely available across South Florida, one question that remains is whether employers will require workers to get the shot.

Several cruise lines like Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line decided to require passengers and crew to be vaccinated in order to set sail one day.

The cruise industry is the only one that has widely adopted the mandate for employees to be vaccinated before embarking on a trip.

So far, no other major employers are requiring the same - but they are inquiring about it.

NBC 6 asked Susan Norton, a Management, Labor and Employment attorney whether private companies can make their employees get vaccinated, the answer is yes.

"It is legal so long as you can make an exception for those with religious issues or have underlying disabilities, or on the recommendation of their physician," said Norton.

In fact, Norton says several of her clients have asked whether they can implement a vaccine mandate.

“A lot of companies are exploring it, if they can mandate it. They're asking what are the requirements and issues that arise with it, the pros and cons. The cons are that obviously not everyone will probably comply or can’t comply,” said Norton.

Norton says although several companies have asked about whether vaccine mandates are legal, she thinks it's unlikely they will choose to put one in place, adding they will likely continue to encourage vaccines and make it easy for workers to get one.

At PortMiami, international longshoremen and union workers are not currently required to get the vaccine. Although union leaders encourage them to get the shot. Still, some are hesitant to get vaccinated.

“I’m not quick to get it even though it may help me, only vaccine I need is God,” said Demetrius Collins, member of ILA 1416.

The union says the day may come when workers are required to get the shot to keep their jobs. Collins says, if that day comes, his decision will be an easy one.

“If they require it at work for me, I’ll have no choice but to get it. I'll pray about it and then I’ll get it," said Collins.

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