With a handful of major U.S. companies rolling back their vaccine mandates for employees, experts put forth that the tightening labor market is to blame as the Great Resignation continues. However, continued infections and a recent rise in cases against employers for COVID-19 deaths stemming from the workplace are keeping others from dropping their safety policies.
Some companies, such as United Airlines, are deciding to drop their vaccine mandates and bring unvaccinated employees back into the fold out of labor necessity. After seeing a significant decline in COVID-19 cases amongst its staff, the airline brought unvaccinated employees back into work on March 28th, 2022. While the company had required vaccinations for their U.S. employees last August, those measures have been dropped as of last week.
On the other hand, other organizations and U.S. cities are continuing to mandate vaccinations with strict repercussions. For example, the City of Los Angeles terminated over 20 of their staff in late March for refusing to get vaccinated; 156 New York court officials face termination without proof of vaccination by April 4th, 2022; and See’s Candies faced public scrutinization in late 2021 after being brought to court for lacking safety protocols, allegedly leading to the death of an employee’s husband.
On the employer side, workplace experts such as Reddock-Wright say that some businesses are willing to take safety risks in order to get their operations back on track. Seeing as COVID-19 can still affect vaccinated employees, businesses are choosing to continue operations now rather than waiting. In Reddock-Wright’s terms, these companies are taking a “calculated business risk.”
As for employees, experts are seeing workers who have contracted COVID-19 report that their employers have failed to provide proper accommodations and sick leave. Others have been terminated after reporting to their employer that they’re COVID-positive, leading to wrongful termination lawsuits. Worst-case scenarios include lawsuits against employers for wrongful deaths due to allegations of not providing enough safety accommodations, such as with V. James Simone’s case in Riverside County, or the See’s Candies case filed last year.
Additionally, the effects of the Great Resignation haven’t come to a complete halt. Workers are still looking for better positions, higher pay, and workplaces that deliver their desired COVID-19 safety accommodations. This has resulted in a labor shortage for many U.S. companies, which is why organizations such as United Airlines have opted to roll back their vaccine mandates and take a calculated safety risk for continued operations.
In a March 23, 2022 feature on SpectrumNews, Reddock-Wright shared her professional insights on the split between companies still requiring vaccinations, and those that are dropping their policies: “I think employers are growing tired and weary of managing who is vaccinated and who’s not vaccinated…but everyone, on some level, is essentially on their own, and taking a risk when they come to work. But [some companies are saying] ‘If you need a job, and you need to work, then we’re here to provide that opportunity for you.”
Angela is a go-to resource on issues related to COVID-19 and the workplace. To see her past blogs on this topic, since the beginning of the pandemic, visit her COVID-19 resource page.
You may also follow Angela on Facebook and Instagram @iamangelareddockwright.com, LinkedIn at angelareddock-wright, and tune-in to her radio show KBLA Talk 1580’s Legal Lens with Angela Reddock-Wright each Saturday and Sunday at 11am PST, or catch past episodes on Anchor.fm/Spotify. For media inquiries for Angela, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Experienced Employment Law Attorney, Mediator, Arbitrator, Investigator, Legal and Media Commentator
Twice-named a U.S. News Best Lawyer in America for employment and labor law, Angela Reddock-Wright is an employment and labor law attorney, mediator, arbitrator, and certified workplace and Title IX investigator (AWI-CH) in Los Angeles, CA. Known as the “Workplace Guru,” Angela is an influencer and leading authority on employment, workplace/HR, Title IX, hazing, and bullying issues. Furthermore, she’s been named a “Top 50 Woman Attorney” in California by Super Lawyers, a “Top California Employment Lawyer” by the Daily Journal and one of Los Angeles’ “Most Influential Minority and Women Attorneys” by the Los Angeles Business Journal.
Angela is a regular legal and media commentator and analyst and has appeared on such media outlets as Good Morning America, Entertainment Tonight, Law and Crime with Brian Ross, Court TV, CNN, NewsNation, ABC News, CBS News, Fox 11 News, KTLA-5, the Black News Channel, Fox Soul – The Black Report, NPR, KPCC, Airtalk-89.3, KJLH Front Page with Dominique DiPrima, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the LA Times, Forbes.com, Yahoo! Entertainment, People Magazine, Essence Magazine, the Los Angeles Sentinel, LA Focus, Daily Journal, Our Weekly and the Wave Newspapers.
Angela is a member of the panel of distinguished mediators and arbitrators with Judicate West, a California dispute resolution company. She also owns her own dispute resolution law firm, the Reddock Law Group of Los Angeles, specializing in the mediation, arbitration, and investigation of employment discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and other workplace claims, along with Title IX, sexual harassment, assault, and misconduct conduct cases, along with hazing and bullying cases in K-12 schools, colleges and universities, fraternities and sororities; fire, police and other public safety agencies and departments; and other private and public sector workplaces.
Reddock-Wright has also launched her own radio show, Legal Lens with Angela Reddock-Wright, airing on Tavis Smiley’s new KBLA Talk 1580 radio station on Saturdays at 11:00 a.m. PT with replays on subsequent Sundays. Listeners may tune-in by downloading the APP @kbla1580 and call the PowerLines at 1-800-920-1580. You can listen to past episodes on Anchor.Fm/Spotify.
For more information regarding resources for employers, businesses, and employees during this time, connect with her on LinkedIn for new updates, or contact her here. You may also follow her on Instagram.
This communication is not legal advice. It is educational only. For legal advice, consult with an experienced employment law attorney in your state or city.