DENVER (KDVR) — Vaccine mandates are starting to go into effect for businesses and government agencies alike across the nation.
Here at home, City and County of Denver employees must upload their proof of vaccination or exemption on Thursday.
Right now, about 96% of the city’s overall workforce is following the order; 98% of full-time workers are complying.
Those not in compliance have until midnight to meet the deadline.
The FOX31 Problem Solvers spoke with a legal expert about the challenges that could be coming as these requirements go into effect.
Employment law expert Gillian Bidgood says calls regarding vaccine mandates have been coming in nonstop. People are trying to make sure employers are within legal bounds when enforcing vaccine mandates.
She says because Colorado is an at-will employment state, it’s an employer’s call when it comes to vaccine requirements and penalties for not getting immunized.
“An employer can say ‘I have a vaccine requirement. Employee, I need you to abide by it. Or, if you chose not to, I have the option of ending your employment. Or if it’s legally required, I can provide an accommodation for you but if neither of those apply, I can then end your employment,” Bidgood explained.
The City of Denver is accepting exemptions for certain religious and medical reasons. The city attorney’s office has approved 627 exemptions so far of the 773 submitted.
The small amount of city workers are not the only ones being turned away. Workers at hospitals, schools and other places tell the Problem Solvers they have had their medical exemption request denied. Bidgood says medical exemptions need to be specific.
“There is no category for medical protection under the American Disabilities Act or Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act. Those laws talk in terms of disability and describe and define disability,” Bidgood said.
“And in some cases, a lot of cases, a medical issue will fall into a disability but there are, theoretically, some medical issues that would not meet that level of disability.”
Bidgood said people seeking an exemption should keep an open line of communication with their employers.
She says most bosses do not want to overstep their legal boundaries and are usually willing to work with employees who have a legitimate reason for not getting the vaccine.