University of Pennsylvania requiring all faculty, staff to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The University of Pennsylvania is now requiring its faculty and staff to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

On Tuesday, the university announced that all current faculty, staff and postdoctoral trainees must be fully vaccinated by August 1 and document the info on a secure website.

"In the next two weeks, we will launch a simple process in Workday for all employees and postdoctoral trainees to record their COVID-19 vaccination status securely and confidentially," UPenn said in a statement.

Under guidelines set by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the university and other employers are allowed to do this.

"Just a couple days ago, the EEOC put out new guidelines basically again green-lighting these incentives," said Philadelphia-based labor & employment attorney Michael Jones, with Eckert Seamans.

UPenn says it understands some individuals will choose not to obtain vaccines for medical and religious reasons and some may choose not to disclose their vaccine status.

"Faculty, staff, and postdoctoral trainees who are not fully vaccinated will be required to continue to participate in daily symptom checks on PennOpen Pass and weekly Penn Cares screening testing, as well as to continue to wear masks indoors," says the university.

Jessica Kuester, an employment benefits lawyer, says under the law, they must be exempt.

"The EEOC has said that to require employees who are disabled or have a religious objection would be discriminatory under the Americans with Disabilities Act and under Title VII," said Kuester.

"Now that's not the same as someone who does not want to get vaccinated because they don't believe it's safe or they're an 'anti-vaxer.,'" Jones added.

Meanwhile, in Houston, over 100 Methodist Hospital employees filed a lawsuit after the company told them to get vaccinated or lose their job. It's one of a handful of lawsuits across the country challenging the vaccine mandates.

"They've raised various legal arguments opposing the vaccine saying they haven't gotten full FDA authorization yet and the like. But the EEOC did, in their guidance back in December, green light employer mandates," said Jones.

CLICK HERE to read UPenn's full statement
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