Can Businesses Ask Employees and Customers About Their Vaccination Status?

May 21, 2021

Last week we talked about the new CDC guidance surrounding masks. It has raised a lot of questions, and I see a lot of misinformation going around social media, especially as it relates to whether you, as a business owner, can ask someone about their vaccine status. I am going to clear that up for you as best as I can, as it relates to both customers and employees. The short answer, in both cases, is that yes, you can ask. 

Many people are saying, incorrectly, that asking this information violates HIPAA. Who knows what I’m gonna say? IT DEPENDS! For something to violate HIPAA, HIPPA has to first apply to the business. In general, HIPAA only applies to clinicians, hospitals, and others in the healthcare field, not the average person or non-healthcare businesses. (Of course, of course, there are some grey areas, so when in doubt check in with your legal advisor to determine if HIPPA applies to your biz.)

That said, there remains the likelihood that lawsuits will be filed citing other federal privacy laws. Until that happens, though, you likely remain within your rights as a business owner to ask your customers to either wear a mask or provide proof of vaccination. 

The EEOC also says that you are within your rights to ask employees whether they have been vaccinated. More about that can be found here. However there are things you CANNOT ask or do with your employees’ vaccination status/decisions.  So if you do decide to ask, you may want to check in with your legal advisor for some guidelines on that convo, and what you do with the info. 

Whether you choose to require proof or opt to go on the honor system for maskless customers and employees is up to you, but keep in mind the number of COVID exposure lawsuits still pending across the country. The best defense to reduce your risk is to put in place a solid policy that is enforceable and communicated in a clear way to all impacted.

Need help creating a policy for your business? I am here to help! I will continue to monitor the response to the recent changes as well as the pending lawsuits and let you know what I find out as soon as I know. Be sure to like my Facebook page or follow me on Instagram for the latest information as soon as I have it.

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMERS:
1. The information above does not constitute legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. Please consult your attorney with specific questions.
2. As this situation is constantly changing, we will make every effort to stay current on this topic, however this information is provided as general guidance and may not apply to your situation, nor should it be relied upon exclusively. Please consult and confirm with your attorney if you have questions about these updates or their applicability.  
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Copyright © *2021* *Law Offices of Lindsey King*, All rights reserved.*

Copyright © *2021* *Law Offices of Lindsey King*, All rights reserved.*

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