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Employers can ask you for proof of vaccination, here’s why

Published: Apr. 20, 2021 at 6:30 AM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The NBC15 Vaccine Team is answering your questions about employers asking for proof of COVID-19 vaccination. You can find a full list of NBC15 Vaccine Team Q&A’s HERE.

CLICK HERE to submit your own question.

QUESTION:

If an employer is not mandating the covid vaccine, should the employer be able to request a copy of the covid vaccine card? Isn’t that protected under HIPAA?

Zach

ANSWER: Yes they can. It is not a HIPAA violation.

Erin Rome, Attorney with Palmersheim Dettmann in Middleton, said employers can ask employees to provide proof of vaccination, even if they are not requiring an employee to get vaccinated.

“This is allowed. The Federal Equal Employment Opportunities Commission recently issued some guidance on this topic, saying that employers are permitted to ask employees whether they’ve been vaccinated and also to ask for proof of vaccination. That doesn’t implicate any protected rights under the American’s With Disabilities Act or similar laws,” said Rome.

Rome said HIPAA generally prevents healthcare providers from disclosing protected health information and this “does not violate HIPAA, because it’s not a disclosure of public health information by someone who is required to keep that private.”

However, Rome explained that employers should be careful about what they do ask, should an employee decide not to get vaccinated or if they do not provide proof of vaccination.

“The advice from the EEOC is that employers can ask, but they should limit it to that question. Have you been vaccinated? And they can ask to see proof of it, but not go any further into any medical information,” told Rome.

The reason employers may ask for proof of vaccination is because they have to consider the health and safety of their employees, according to Rome.

“It affects how they treat things like returning to work, how many employees they can have in a given area and also how they make sure they’re protecting all of the employees in the workforce. Moreover, if you have a public facing business where employees are interacting with customers, you also have that consideration of protecting the public,” said Rome.

Back in December, the federal government issued guidelines saying employers could require the vaccine. Then, on March 23, a bill that would prevent employers from requiring the COVID-19 vaccine or mandating proof of vaccination passed in the Assembly. It still has to pass the Senate before it can head to Governor Tony Evers’ desk.

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