President Biden’s Sept. 9, 2021 announcement to implement an aggressive plan to combat the rising incidence of COVID-19 nationwide applies to casino workers. One component of the plan relates to vaccination requirements in the workplace.
It will affect all Atlantic City casino employees.
The new vaccination rules for employees in a nutshell
If you are a federal government employee or contractor, health care worker, or an employee of any of the nine Atlantic City casinos but have not yet been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, this article concerns you directly. If you wish to keep your job, your window of time to take action may be limited.
Employers that don’t comply with both the vaccination and paid-time-off requirements can incur a fine of up to $14,000 for each violation.
Here are the latest directives issued by the President.
Federal employees and contractors
Biden signed an executive order that makes getting the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for most federal employees and federal contractors. These workers will no longer have the option to submit to regular testing instead.
Only individuals with certain covered disabilities or those who choose not to be vaccinated for religious reasons will be exempt. Otherwise, federal employees and contractors who have not yet been fully vaccinated will have only about 75 days.
Health care workers
The same executive order also applies to most health care workers in settings that receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement. This amounts to a nationwide total of approximately 50,000 providers and 17 million employees.
Employers in the private sector with 100 or more employees
The above mandates cover roughly 100 million workers or 2/3 of the national workforce. In addition, President Biden has asked the Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue an emergency temporary standard (ETS) to private sector employers with 100 or more employees on their payroll.
All such employers must mandate that all employees either be vaccinated or provide weekly negative COVID-19 test results. The new ruling will impact more than 80 million workers. This includes everyone employed by an Atlantic City casino.
Paid time off to get vaccinations or recover from vaccination side effects
OSHA will also require employers with 100 or more employees to grant paid time off to get the vaccine or recover from post-vaccination side effects.
Why Biden decided to implement these new vaccination rules for the workplace
Biden felt that he needed to issue this executive order based on the dramatic recent increase in new COVID-19 infections. The nationwide total has reached approximately 150,000 new cases and 1,500 fatalities daily. That is compared to only 300 daily fatalities just a few months ago. Additionally, about 80 million Americans who are eligible for the vaccine have not gotten their first shot.
However, Biden believes that “we can and we will turn the tide on COVID-19.” He feels that by implementing these measures “in the months ahead we can reduce the number of unvaccinated [individuals], decrease hospitalizations and deaths, and keep businesses open. We will protect vaccinated workers from unvaccinated coworkers.”
Reaction to vaccination requirements for employees
This is the first time that private employers have been mandated to order vaccinations. Therefore, according to Kathryn Bakich, health compliance practice leader and senior vice president at the employee benefits consulting firm Segal in Washington, D.C., “Employers are moving toward mandatory vaccination policies at great speed.”
Bakich also pointed out that some employers are considering penalizing employees who refuse the vaccine by raising their health insurance premiums.
Here is what two prominent attorneys had to say about the new vaccination policies:
Steve Bell, a partner at the Denver-based international law firm Dorsey & Whitney feels that the new rules will provide employers with the information they need to make appropriate decisions. Bell described the president’s announcement as “a real game-changer for many employees.”
“The fact that the largest employer in the U.S. is mandating vaccines will give comfort to private employers that have been hesitant to require vaccines. It may also set the standard for what a reasonable employer should be doing in the face of this continuing epidemic.”
Chelsea Smith, a labor and employment attorney in the Oklahoma City office of Hall Estill pointed out, however, that employers in the private sector should seek legal advice regarding formulating any new mandatory vaccine policy. They need to permit exemptions for people with qualifying disabilities as defined under the Americans with Disabilities Act. They need to do likewise for those who object on religious grounds.
Summary and conclusion
Announcements should be forthcoming from the Atlantic City casinos soon with regard to President Biden’s employee vaccination directives. NJ Online Casino will keep you apprised of the latest information.