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Ohio AG says businesses requiring COVID vaccination is legal, but unsure if it's ethical

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Posted at 4:20 PM, Jun 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-15 19:14:11-04

CLEVELAND — If you haven’t noticed, the speed of business reopening varies depending on where you go.

One hot button topic as of late: whether or not private businesses can or should require vaccinations for its employees.

News 5 brought the issue up to Ohio’s top legal authority: Attorney General Dave Yost.

"Private businesses get to do what private businesses want to do," he explained. "If they don’t want to do business with you, the marketplace will react to that."

Yost, who is vaccinated, opposes the now-politicized idea of “vaccine passports,” but argues that private businesses have the right to mandate vaccinations for employees or customers.

Whether or not he believes private businesses should mandate vaccinations, is a different answer.

"I think there’s an ethical problem when you take something cleared only for emergency use and require someone to do it,"he said. "I’m not sure about the ethics, but that doesn’t make it illegal."

Inside Shaker Heights’ Larchmere Tavern, familiar faces fill the storefront. Dealing with this sudden surge in customers requires a little bit of improvising for owner Fred Vrabel.

"It’s been a very interesting transition," he said. "We are seeing people we haven’t seen in 15 months."

As for dealing with how he regulates the rules inside his own business, Vrabel considers himself one of the lucky restaurant owners, given he never found himself forced to tackle the issue of whether or not to require employees to get vaccinated.

"The staff is fully vaccinated," Vrabel said. "We decided as a team that we were going to do what was right not only for each other but for our guests."

Within the last month, the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, known as the EEOC, released a statement saying companies can legally require employees to be vaccinated:

Federal EEO laws do not prevent an employer from requiring all employees physically entering the workplace to be vaccinated for COVID-19, so long as employers comply with the reasonable accommodation provisions of the ADA and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other EEO considerations. Other laws, not in EEOC’s jurisdiction, may place additional restrictions on employers. From an EEO perspective, employers should keep in mind that because some individuals or demographic groups may face greater barriers to receiving a COVID-19 vaccination than others, some employees may be more likely to be negatively impacted by a vaccination requirement.