June 04, 2021
Employees lodging complaints against their employer’s COVID vaccine mandate are often tied together by a common thread: a New York law firm closely tied to the anti-vaccine movement.
Siri & Glimstad is co-counsel on several COVID vaccine mandate legal challenges and has sent warning letters to employers, officials in Rock County, WI, Rutgers University, and other schools. The firm has also performed millions of dollars' worth of legal work for one of the nation’s foremost anti-vaccination groups—the Informed Consent Action Network (ICAN).
At issue is whether employers can mandate their employees be inoculated with a vaccine that has only been approved by the FDA for emergency use, a question that has never been tested in court. Under a 1905 Supreme Court decision, employers will have greater confidence to mandate vaccinations once the vaccines receive full FDA approval, which may not occur for another ten months.
Most employers have shied away from mandating COVID vaccines partly due to the potential legal risk, but four percent in a recent survey said they were going to require the shot or were considering doing so.
Takeaway: Employers should be aware that law firms working with anti-vaccine groups, combined with social media, present a potential legal risk. However, Siri & Glimstad may be pulling back on its legal challenges because it has accomplished what it set out to do with its early legal challenges and warning letters, and because so few employers are requiring vaccinations.