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There Is No Federal Requirement, But Private Employers May Have Vaccine Mandates

On January 13, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that President Biden did not have the authority to require employers with over 100 employees to have a “vaccine or testing mandate” to minimize the spread of COVID-19. The court did uphold a federal vaccine mandate for healthcare workers working in facilities receiving federal funds.

While the federal government may not require it, the Louisiana Supreme Court held this month that private employers may impose a COVID-19 vaccine mandate on their employees. Because at-will employment is the law in Louisiana (as it is in many other states), the state’s highest court ruled a private employer may set the terms and conditions of employment, provided they do not violate state and federal law. Based on the court’s decision, a vaccine mandate does not violate its state law. Several employees working for the University of Health Shreveport, LLC had challenged its vaccine policy. The policy did allow for medical and religious exemptions.

Press reports indicate that some major private employers either have or plan to fire unvaccinated employees. United Airlines fired 200 of its 67,000 employees when the employees failed to comply with United’s vaccine mandate. Nike is reportedly planning to fire employees this weekend if they have not complied with its vaccine mandate. Similarly, Columbia Sportswear will begin terminating unvaccinated corporate employees on February 1, 2022. According to Reuters, Citigroup workers who do not comply with the bank’s January 14, 2022 deadline to be vaccinated will be placed on leave and fired (unless granted an exemption). The bank is complying with President Biden’s directive that all workers supporting government contracts be fully vaccinated.