We received notice last week from a health care client that, as of October, any employee of a vendor that enters their work premises must provide proof of vaccination from the coronavirus. For our firm, this means that attorneys, paralegals, and other personnel who attend meetings or otherwise visit this client will not be able to do so if they are not vaccinated.
Even if an employer has not instituted a mandatory vaccination policy, these vendor requirements may force them to impose a similar requirement on affected employees. Vendors could decide that employees who need to be on clients’ premises will need to comply with those clients’ vaccination requirements as a condition of employment. If the employee claims a religious or medical reason why they cannot be vaccinated, the employer would need to explore accommodations such as reassignment to projects that do not include a client mandate. However, those clients are likely not legally required to honor medical or religious exemptions claimed by their vendors’ employees. If the employee cannot be reassigned to productive alternative duties, the employer may conclude that the accommodation request presents an undue hardship.
Vendors should have direct discussions with their clients and customers about the impact of mandatory vaccination policies on the goods and services provided. These employers should in turn review these impacts and develop policies that meet their customers’ requirements while also communicating and working with their own affected personnel.