Nearly 100 businesspeople took part in the first meeting of NJBIA’s new Human Resource Council this week to get answers from legal and health experts about New Jersey’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plans and whether employers can require workers to be vaccinated.
The Jan. 13 online event featured labor attorney Douglas Diaz, of Archer Law, and Dr. Margaret Fisher, special adviser to New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. Fisher spoke about the state’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout strategy while Diaz fielded questions from businesses wondering how to require vaccinations without running afoul of federal and state anti-discrimination laws.
“The general rule is that you can mandate it, but lawyers being lawyers, there are many limitations or exceptions to be careful of… disability issues, pregnancy issues because pregnancy obviously can be a subset of disability,” Diaz said. “Religion is also an issue, and in connection with all of these you have to be wary of accommodation requirements.”
Fisher, a physician and renowned infections disease expert, said the state has 260 vaccine sites so far and has administered over 244,000 doses. Over 1 million people have preregistered to receive the vaccine using the state-run online registration portal.
She urged employers to play an active role in disseminating useful information to their employees about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.
“What we want is there to be more public confidence in this vaccine,” Fisher said. “We’ve seen (confidence) grow from less than 50% to over 60%, but we want it to go up into the 80% to 90% level so that we can get to our goal to get 70% of New Jersey’s adult population immunized.”
NJBIA has prepared a FAQ sheet summarizing the answers Diaz and Fisher provided in their presentations, which can be accessed here. To watch a recording of the NJBIA Human Resource Council’s Zoom meeting, go here.
To learn more about the NJBIA Human Resource Council, go here.