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Employers waiting for guidance on which workers they can require to get a vaccine

Companies are suing their insurers to pay for COVID-related business costs. Employers also want to know which workers they can require to be vaccinated.

Companies are suing their insurers to pay for COVID-related business costs.

A pandemic legal database called the COVID Coverage Litigation Tracker has been following coronavirus-related lawsuits that have been filed by businesses against insurance companies.

Nationwide, the site shows a cumulative 1,294 suits filed between the middle of March and the first week of October (which is the most recent week of data crunched by the tracker). At least 77 of the entries are from Texas.

Most of the court filings are companies seeking insurance payments for lost business income or extra business expenses because of the pandemic.

Food services and drinking places account for 504 of the 1,294 cases; by far that industry has initiated more of these pandemic insurance lawsuits than any other, according to the database. It boasts that it includes “what is believed to be close to a complete set of federal COVID coverage cases."

The site adds that "state case coverage is less complete because of the limits of state court data."

Can your boss force you to get a COVID vaccine?

As COVID-19 vaccines become a reality, in the months ahead will your employer have the authority to require you to get one of the shots? Generally, they can.

It is up to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to give employers guidance on this subject. In a previous pandemic, the EEOC did allow for exceptions to an employer-mandated vaccine for employees with certain disabilities and workers with certain religious beliefs.

"We anticipate the EEOC is going to take the same position with the COVID-19 vaccine," said Sarah Mitchell Montgomery, an employment attorney who is a partner at the Jackson Walker law firm in Dallas. "It’s possible they could actually say you can require the vaccine and there are no exceptions to it.”

It remains to be seen what the EEOC will decide regarding COVID-19 vaccines, but Montgomery said much of her workload these days is dealing with employers who are constantly adjusting to the office and workforce challenges posed by the virus.

To listen to the full conversation with Mongomery on this week's episode of Y'all-itics, subscribe wherever you get your podcasts: