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Partner Ian Carleton Schaefer Tapped as COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate Guru and Corporate Reopening Strategist

Loeb Employment & Labor partner Ian Carleton Schaefer has been highly sought out and quoted in numerous media publications – including The New York Times and Politico – about the nation’s new federal safety regulations commanding businesses with more than 100 employees to require vaccinations against COVID-19, affirming mandates already in place at many companies and giving cover to employers that had yet to decide.

If enacted, the proposed rules, which President Biden announced on September 8, 2021, will require workers at private sector employers of 100 or more employees to be immunized or face weekly testing, and will mandate that the businesses offer employees paid time off to get vaccinated.

Schaefer told The New York Times that these new regulations will help balance out potential competition and issues across a variety of businesses and employers. “Particularly in service industries or industries where they may have been represented by minority populations or lower-wage earners who are disproportionately likely not to be vaccinated — those employers were reluctant to push out a vaccine mandate because they thought they’d lose talent,” Schaefer said.

“If they rolled out that mandate and people…[] weren’t getting vaccinated and walking across the street [to other employers] elsewhere, they’d be in a bind,” he noted.

The New York Times also reported that on September 13, a trade group representing about 2,000 consumer brands sent a letter to President Biden asking for clarification about his September 8 announcement. The White House said it will provide more guidance by September 24.

At this point, “there are more questions than answers,” Schaefer told The New York Times. Even as companies are calling their lobbyists and lawyers for more insight, many are discussing at a senior level the realities of putting a mandate in place, despite not yet knowing exactly what that might entail, he said.

“In the absence of actionable intelligence that gives a little bit more guidance and direction, I think [companies are] controlling for what they can control, which is a lot of internal politics at this point,” Schaefer continued.

Aside from the many questions surrounding the mandate, Schaefer also touched on other outstanding obstacles facing regulators and businesses with Politico. “Implementing a rapid testing program like the one envisioned under Biden’s plan is logistically difficult and costly,” he said.

In addition to the articles published by The New York Times and Politico, Schaefer is quoted in the following articles discussing the COVID-19 vaccine workplace mandate (some subscriptions may be required): 

Schaefer serves as Chair of Loeb’s New York Employment & Labor practice and advises clients on the most existential workplace and human capital issues on both a domestic and international basis, with a particular focus advising companies on COVID-19 policies and reopening planning following the global pandemic. He has significant industry experience in the technology, media and telecommunications, and sports, music and entertainment sectors.