WYOMISSING, Pa. – Is it legal for an employer to require its staff to get the COVID-19 vaccine to stay employed? How about requiring the vaccine for potential employees to even get hired? These are questions that the legal community believes will start working their way into the court system in the months ahead.
"When it comes to things like the flu vaccine or this current vaccine, employers may have an interest in requiring employees to do something reasonable to not get sick in the work place," said Joel Ready, an attorney at Cornerstone Law Firm LLC in Berks County.
However, Ready says the court system usually carves out exceptions for which employees can show they have a particular illness that could be inflamed by a vaccine.
"I think the hard part is a lot of employees are gonna have to face this choice where they either risk losing their job and enter into a lawsuit, or just go ahead and go along and hope for the best and hope they don't have a reaction," said Ready.
One local business owner says he's offering cash incentives to employees to get vaccinated.
"As a restaurant owner who serves a lot of elderly, and my average employee age is 45 years," said Hamid Chaudhry, owner of Wyomissing Restaurant and Bakery. "I have a lot of servers and cooks that are on the other side of 55."
Chaudhry says he'll hand over $50 in cash, out of his own pocket, to employees who get vaccinated. He also says he understands people's apprehensions, but hopes they educate themselves.
"If you see all the nurses and doctors getting vaccinated — if it's safe for them, I think it's safe for me and my crew," he said.
Chaudhry says he's also reached out to the National Restaurant Association and Tower Health for the latest info on vaccine distribution.