Backed by Biden, more NJ companies will require jabs for jobs
You can expect more New Jersey companies to enact mandatory COVID vaccination policies.
While some companies have already announced vaccine and testing policies, internal debate has continued for many employers in the Garden State. The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce had been encouraging businesses to impose a mandate, but President Joe Biden's new orders take the decision out of their hands.
Under Biden's orders, all companies with more than 100 employees are required to force employees to show proof of vaccination status. Those who refuse the vaccine will be subjected to weekly testing.
It is similar to the order issued by Gov. Phil Murphy for all New Jersey healthcare workers, government employees and teachers.
Big U.S. companies began announcing vaccine mandates weeks ago, including Walmart, United Airlines, Disney, Google, Facebook, Uber and Lyft.
While New Jersey is home to some of the nation's largest financial and tech companies where the vaccination requirement is not even debatable, there are many companies that fall right around the 100 employee mark.
There is also the question of whether the mandate will be enforced based on total employment at multiple offices, or if each office or business location will be considered separately. In other words, if a company has four separate locations with 25 employees each, will they have to impose a vaccine mandate for the combined workforce of 100?
Smaller companies are certainly being encouraged to impose their own vaccine mandate, but many have been resistant to do so, fearing valuable employees could leave at a time when hiring workers has been a challenge.
Companies may also elect to enact stricter policies, much like some local governments have done, going beyond Murphy's mandates.
In Newark, for example, there is no exemption and no alternate testing. Get vaccinated or get fired is the official city policy.
Passaic County has also announced their mandatory vaccination policy for all government employees, although they are offering a testing alternative. Non-compliance will result in employees first receiving unpaid leave, which could lead to termination.
For private employers, navigating COVID workplace rules comes with a certain level of risk. If they exceed the federal mandate and, for example, segregate the vaccinated from the unvaccinated in separate working areas, they could be open to discrimination lawsuits.
The mandates are likely to be challenged in court at some point, but early tests in lower courts and the opinions of most legal scholars have supported the employers right to set work place rules, including vaccine mandates.