Federal employees and on-site contractors will have to confirm their vaccination status with their agencies, as part of President Joe Biden’s new actions announced July 29 to cut the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S.
“Anyone who does not attest or is not vaccinated will be required to mask no matter where they work, test one or two times a week to see if they’ve acquired COVID, socially distance and generally will not be allowed to travel for work,” Biden said.
This directive comes just days after Biden acknowledged that his administration was considering a vaccine mandate for feds.
The order falls short of directly requiring feds to get the vaccine, though as Biden said, “the Justice Department has made it clear that it is legal for employers to require vaccines.”
Visitors to federal buildings will also have to sign off on the fact that they have received a vaccine or supply a negative COVID-19 test from the three days preceding their visit.
Michael Fallings, a federal labor attorney at Tully and Rinckey, told Federal Times that an all-out vaccine mandate for federal workers could potentially run afoul of the Rehabilitation Act, Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act or federal collective bargaining agreements.
“I do think that there is a likelihood that it could be legally challenged,” said Fallings.
According to the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, HIPPA does not prevent employers from asking their employees about their medical information, such as their vaccination status, but those employers cannot ask for that information from the employees’ health insurance provider.