Santa Clara County Requiring COVID-19 Vaccine for Employees

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Santa Clara County employees are now required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of employment, according to a memo sent to staff on Thursday.

The memo, which lists certain exemptions, also outlines employees who do not comply face regular testing and discipline, including discharge.

County employees will need to be at least partially vaccinated or must have submitted a request for exemption by Aug. 20. By Sept. 13, all county employees must be fully vaccinated, according to the memo.

So, are vaccine mandates legal and can they hold up in court?

One attorney NBC Bay Area asked argued against it, but two law professors said that the mandates are allowed. 

So, are vaccine mandates legal and can they hold up in court? NBC Bay Area’s Ian Cull gets some answers.

“It’s been clear for many years in both types of employment settings, that employers have this obligation,” said Don Polden. “They have to protect other employees, they have to protect customers, suppliers. So we have seen mandatory vaccination requirements going back to the last century.”

Polden is an employment law expert, and former dean of the Santa Clara University School of law.

He says it’s a health and safety issue, just as an employer can reprimand you for showing up to work intoxicated. 

One challenge, however, Polden says unions are much more prevalent in the public sector and may push back on this.

Both legal experts say -- since these mandates allow for workers to apply for an exemption for religious or medical reasons – it is legal.

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