Legal expert says MUSC has legal right to require employees to be vaccinated

Updated: Jun. 15, 2021 at 3:17 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Midnight on June 15 is the deadline for leaders and care team members who work at the Medical University of South Carolina to be vaccinated against COVID-19. But this deadline has community members wondering about the legality of a public university or other public entities requiring COVID-19 vaccines for their employees.

Attorney Paul Derrick said public employers, such as MUSC, are completely in their legal right to require vaccines. He said this is because companies are required to protect the health and safety of all employees. Both private and public employers could argue having everybody vaccinated against COVID would do just that.

According to the latest data from MUSC, as of June 7, 90 percent of their healthcare team members have either gotten vaccinated or have submitted a religious or medical reason why they can’t.

Derrick told Live 5 medical and religious exemptions are a key part of this vaccine requirement. He said employers should try an implement polices to accommodate those with legitimate exemptions.

“In both cases, there’s no black and white answer as to what reasonable accommodations might be,” he said. “It might be moving them to an area where social distancing is possible, where it might not be possible in their current station. It might be any number of things. But you have an obligation as an employer to at least explore those options.”

As for MUSC employees who do not have exemptions, no information has been released on what happens if they are not vaccinated by the deadline.

According to MUSC, they established their COVID-19 vaccine policy for the safety of their care team, their patients and their patients’ family and visitors.

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