As the pandemic continues, many employers are requiring their employees to be vaccinated (or submit proof of negative COVID test results) as a condition of continued employment. The reactions to these requirements vary, from those who believe the move will help end the pandemic, to others who believe it constitutes a major infringement on their rights as a citizen. While both sides in the debate express their arguments, the central questions on our mind are (1) can employers legally require their employees to be vaccinated; and (2) what are the potential consequences – criminal or otherwise – to employees for falsifying their vaccination status (or COVID test results)?
Requiring Vaccinations Before Returning to the Workplace
According to the United States Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC), a private employer may require its employees to be vaccinated as a condition of returning to the workplace. The Arizona Attorney General is generally in agreement with this legal position (although a new Arizona law about to go into effect may prohibit certain educational institutions from doing so). The caveat is that under federal law and Arizona law, an employer imposing the requirement must provide a “reasonable accommodation” (wearing masks, regular COVID testing, etc.) for those who are unable to be vaccinated as the result of a disability or a sincere religious belief. Obviously, employees are free to refuse a vaccination, but without a legally justifiable reason, their employment can be terminated. Note that in a recent survey, the conclusion is that most private sector companies are or are planning to impose vaccine mandates.
Falsifying Vaccine Certificates or COVID Test Results
Our second question involves the consequences to an employee for providing false proof of a COVID vaccination or test results. We should begin by stating that it is a fairly simple matter to provide false COVID information to an employer. There are, however, serious potential consequences if you do so. The action could be prosecuted as fraud, as well as (depending upon the circumstances) a violation of various federal laws.
The bottom line is simple. Vaccine mandates by private employers, subject to the proviso mentioned above, are legal and enforceable under current federal and state law. Providing false COVID information, in the form of a fake vaccination card or fake test results, or assisting others in doing so, can land you in jail.
Law Offices of David A. Black
40 North Central Avenue #1850
Phoenix, AZ 85004