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Charlotte professionals, employers discuss potential for mandating employee COVID-19 vaccinations

Updated: Jun. 21, 2021 at 6:03 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - As companies bring more employees back into the office, the question of mandating vaccinations is coming up.

By law, employers can require that their employees get the COVID-19 vaccine.

But so far, few in North Carolina are following through with it.

According to a survey conducted in North Carolina last month by Catapult, only 5 percent of North Carolina employers are requiring employees to get the shot.

About 44 percent of employers are tracking employee vaccination status.

The survey included 61 participants in a wide range of industries and sizes.

In Houston, employers took their hospital system to court after being told they would lose their jobs if they didn’t get vaccinated.

A judge sided with the hospital system and threw the suit out.

According to Dr. David Priest with Novant Health, all of their team members are required to get the flu shot each year.

He says in the future, they could be required to get the covid shot.

“When you think about individuals who have cancer when those individuals are in the hospital, you want the team taking care of them to protect them,” Dr. Priest said.

Dr. Priest says health care leaders across the state are in discussions over this and once vaccines get full FDA approval it could make it easier to start mandating it.

In other industries, companies like Delta and United Airlines are requiring new employees to get the shot.

Companies like Duke Energy, Harris Teeter and American Airlines are not requiring it, but are offering financial incentives.

“I think it’s the people’s choice and if they don’t have it they should probably wear the mask in the office,” Charlotte banker John Daniels told WBTV.

Many professionals in Charlotte are waiting for guidelines on the return to working in person.

“I would like to know the person, or the co-worker sitting next to me, or I may encounter at the coffee machine, is also fully vaccinated because I don’t want to give them anything and I don’t want them to give me anything,” Kristen Washington said.

Bank of America is offering employees four hours of off time to get the shot and asking them to report their vaccination status.

“As far as requiring vaccines, I think that’s kind of a hard thing to do,” Bank of America employee Brian Spivak said.

Employment law attorney Laura Noble agrees with him.

“You can do some other projects and accommodations with the employees, but trying to do a one-size-fits-all may not be in the best interest of the employer as they try to balance the needs of the employees,” Noble said.

Noble also said if a company does require the shot, it also has to consider reasonable accommodations for people with physical or mental health disabilities or sincere religious beliefs.

Noble says in most cases, anxiety over getting the shot would not count as an exemption.

No law in North Carolina currently prohibits employers from mandating vaccinations, but there are bills moving through the legislature that could challenge that.

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