Private employers can require vaccinations in Idaho

Posted at 4:36 PM, Jul 12, 2021

Last week, Idaho’s largest health providers announced mandatory vaccinations against COVID-19 for all employees and this leaves some with the question - is it legal? Do private companies have this right? The answer is yes.

In Idaho and at the federal level, there's no law that would prevent a company from asking for proof of vaccination. Some talk amongst the community on social media channels says, “this is a violation of HIPAA” although it's not.

“It's a legitimate question and employers are entitled to ask that information,” Senior Health Care Attorney J. Kevin West, a shareholder at Parsons, Behle & Latimer said in a recent interview with Idaho News 6.

Related: Some Idaho lawmakers against mandatory COVID-19 vaccines

HIPAA doesn’t apply to proof of vaccinations and employers are entitled to ask for proof to manage the safety of their workforce. But what about making the dose a requirement? That also is legal in Idaho.

“Generally speaking, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has said that in legitimate circumstances certain employers can require vaccination, "West said.

Idaho is a “work at will” state and according to the Idaho Department of Labor:

“This means there is no set length for an employment relationship and either the employer or the employee may end it at any time, with or without notice, with or without cause. If there is an employer policy, employment contract or union agreement, the employment relationship may be subject to the terms and conditions of that policy, contract or agreement."

There are some exceptions for employees.

“The main exceptions to that is if the employee has a legitimate religious objection or if the employee has a health condition that would make the vaccination hazardous to them,” West said.

Related: Lawmakers eye special session on mandatory COVID-19 vaccines

Earlier this year, Gov. Brad Little issued an executive order preventing local and state government agencies from requiring any proof of vaccination or vaccine passports, but the order does not mention private companies.