A growing list of companies are incentivizing employees who get the coronavirus vaccine, after having apparently read our earlier blog post on how to make workers get inoculated. Some are even structuring these incentives to avoid claims of discrimination against those who cannot get the vaccine. Still other companies, though, are terminating workers who refuse to get the shots.
Publix Joins List of Companies Incentivizing Vaccination
Keeping the coronavirus out of the workplace has been a serious concern for employers across America. As vaccines become more widespread – The Washington Post estimates that 13 percent of the population has been vaccinated with at least one dose, with Massachusetts ahead of the curve at 16 percent – employers are increasingly turning to them to prevent infections rather than sanitizing surfaces, requiring masks, and relying on personal protective equipment (PPE).
But getting workers vaccinated is not easy. Some people have disabilities that make the vaccine dangerous. Some people have religious beliefs that keep them from getting inoculated. Others just do not believe in vaccines.
While the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has said that many employers can require that their workers get vaccinated, lots of companies have decided that it would be better to reward workers who get the vaccine, rather than punish those who do not.
The most recent company to make this decision was Publix, a grocery store chain in the southeast that employs nearly 200,000. They will give workers a $125 Publix gift card if they can prove that they are fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Other companies and their incentives include:
- Aldi, Trader Joe's, Dollar General, Darden Restaurants, Starbucks, and corporate workers at McDonald's – two paid hours for each dose, or four hours for getting both
- Target – two hours pay for each dose, plus up to $15 for a Lyft ride to and from their vaccine appointment
- Amtrak – two hours pay, plus excused absences for side effects within 48 hours
- Chobani – three hours of pay for each dose
- Instacart – $25
- Kroger and the meat-processing company Pilgrim's – $100
- Lidl – $200
Some Incentives Also Cover the Unvaccinated
Many of these incentives are strictly for workers who can prove that they have received their coronavirus vaccines. Some, like Kroger, which employs around 435,000, mainly in the Midwest, are also offering their incentive to workers who do not get vaccinated due to religious beliefs or a disability or other health condition. These workers are eligible for the one-time cash bonus if they complete a health and safety course, instead.
This option is likely in anticipation of a lawsuit challenging the incentives as discriminating against those who have legitimate reasons for not getting vaccinated.
Some Companies are Still Firing Workers for Refusing Vaccines
While lots of major corporations have taken the incentive route, some others – particularly smaller businesses – have decided to let go of workers who refuse to get vaccinated for the coronavirus.
One restaurant and bar in Brooklyn terminated a waitress for her hesitation to get vaccinated due to her concerns that the vaccine would have negative effects on her pregnancy. A hospital in upstate New York terminated a check-in clerk for refusing to get one because of her negative reactions to prior flu shots. Even the Vatican has said that it would fire workers who refused the vaccine.
Massachusetts Employment Litigation Lawyers at the Katz Law Group
Numerous plaintiffs' attorneys are already lining up to represent workers who claim to have been discriminated against for refusing to get the vaccine. The employment litigation lawyers at the Katz Law Group can help employers manage this tricky situation. Contact them online or call their law office at (508) 480-8202 for help in Marlborough, Worcester, Framingham, or the rest of Massachusetts.