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Unvaccinated Workers May Have to Foot the Bill for Weekly COVID-19 Testing

Loeb New York Employment & Labor chair Ian Carleton Schaefer is quoted in articles published by Politico and Law360 discussing issues arising from the federal government’s regulation requiring companies with at least 100 employees to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations or weekly tests. The new rule was recently put on hold by the Fifth Circuit.

Politico reported that while the federal government said that companies can make unvaccinated employees pay for required weekly COVID-19 testing, business groups and labor-law experts argue that existing laws will likely require companies to cover those costs for workers who claim religious or disability exemptions to the vaccines. Costs could reach hundreds of dollars per person each month.

Shaefer explained to Politico that employers usually bear the cost of accommodations, because an employee could argue that they are being financially penalized for their disability or religious belief due to being required to pay for their own reasonable accommodation.

“I think employers will be hard pressed to push the cost on to employees who fall properly within those exemptions,” Schaefer said.

Schaefer also spoke to Law360 in its article discussing how labor lawyers are plowing full speed ahead with plans to bargain over the implementation of the Department of Labor’s company vaccination and weekly testing rule, despite that the rule was temporarily paused by the Fifth Circuit.

“Plan for the rule to become effective until we’re told otherwise because the timeline is very short to come into compliance,” Schaefer told Law360. “To scramble and start and stop is going to make things difficult. You can always hit the pause button when an appeals court makes a decision. Don’t lose time.”

To read the full articles, please visit Politico and Law360 (subscription required).