(CBSNewYork) — With more people eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, will workplaces start requiring it?

With snow and COVID infection rates falling, restaurants like Chela are happy to finally set tables indoors.

“Having people inside is a blessing,” restaurant co-owner Ronny Jaramillo told CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis.

He says another blessing is people, like himself, can finally get vaccinated.

“Are you mandating that your workers get one?” DeAngelis asked.

“No, I am not mandating it right now. It’s up to their discretion. I am, however, promoting it. I am getting it, but they’re not required to do it,” Jaramillo said.

That’s not the case elsewhere.


Take the Vatican, for example, telling its employees if they don’t get vaccinated, they risk losing their jobs unless they have a legitimate health reason.

“It’s a big issue right now. As the vaccine started to get rolled out, companies are starting to grapple with this notion of number one, can we legally mandate that employees get vaccinated? And beyond that, number two, should we?” said labor and employment attorney Michael Schmidt, with Cozen O’Connor.

Schmidt says the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission put out guidance in December stating employers could require vaccines.

“As long as they accommodate employee requests relating to medical conditions or sincerely held religious beliefs, but short of that, employers essentially can mandate vaccines provided that they are readily available,” Schmidt said.

He says he hasn’t seen many employers mandating the COVID vaccine, encouraging conversations between both parties as this is still so new, and feels more guidance is needed.

The EEOC released the following statement regarding the COVID vaccine —

“The EEO laws enforced by the EEOC, including the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, GINA, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act), continue to apply during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. They do not prevent employers from following guidelines put out by the CDC or state/local public health authorities about steps employers should take regarding COVID-19. This means that employers may mandate a COVID-19 vaccine only if they do so in accordance with applicable federal, state, or local laws, including the EEO laws enforced by the EEOC.”

To see the EEOC guidelines, click here.

We reached out to the state department of labor for its guidance and we’re waiting to hear back.