11 May If You are Called Back to Work in Arizona, Can Your Employer Request Wearing a Mask?
The Big Conundrum About Wearing Masks
As COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and death reduce and people receive their vaccinations, employers can ramp up to full employee status. On May 13, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that those who have been fully vaccinated can resume normal life without wearing masks and staying six feet away from others.
There will be circumstances where vaccinated people will still need to wear masks, such as in medical facilities or in public transportation settings, according to a health report on CNBC online. For those who have not received their vaccines, the CDC states that masks should be always worn, and distancing protocols maintained as usual. The reality is that the COVID-19 pandemic is not over yet and there are worries about variant virus strains already reported in America.
What if My Employer Calls Me Back to Work?
If you are called back to work and one of the rules implemented is that everyone should wear masks, should you comply? Yes, you should. The employer, mindful of keeping a safe workplace for all employees, can require you to wear a mask.
There are those with medical conditions who cannot wear masks and they should get a doctor’s letter stating that the patient cannot wear a mask. There is a fine line here about whether the doctor should state in the letter what the medical condition is. The patient can approve revealing the medical condition but for those who do not want to do so, then the doctor must make a blanket statement of the recommendation, but not the medical cause.
Can My Employer Request to See My Vaccination Card or Ask if I Received the Vaccine?
So far, while you will receive a card showing what vaccine you had and whether you need a second shot (and when), this card does not count (so far) as being a vaccine passport. You can choose to answer whether you had the vaccine or not if your employer asks about it.
Employees may not have received the vaccine shot because of medical conditions and the employee can decide whether to tell (or not) the employer and bring in a doctor’s letter as a backup. If the employee does not want to answer, then it could get difficult. Employees can check with a Phoenix workers’ compensation attorney to find out the latest protocols on how much health information is admissible to the employer, particularly where it involves illnesses and injuries connected with COVID-19.
Arizona is one of a few “at-will” employment states, which means that employers can fire employees at will. Employers can ask if you had the vaccine without violating privacy protocols. If the employer asks the employee why they did not receive the vaccine, then that could be legally problematic for the employer.
It is all in how the question is asked or presented to the employee. Employers should contact their company attorneys to find out the correct verbiage for asking employees as to whether they have been vaccinated and whether the vaccine card can be shown or not.
Making Your Choices About Working During COVID-19
All working-age Arizona residents should know that Arizona is one of about 18 states opting out of further unemployment checks delivered from the federal government. As there is a shortage of available workers across the county, the decision was made by these states to get people back to work instead of providing unemployment benefits. While it may solve the workforce shortage by a certain percentage, there will be another percentage who may not be able to go back to work through no fault of their own.
If you need help with a workers’ compensation claim or have a related issue to the post above, contact us at once for help. Arizona Injury Law Group offers experienced and Certified workers’ compensation lawyers and legal services for injured workers. Call for your free consultation! 602-346-9009.