More than 900 viewers tuned in on May 4 to hear Cornell alumni and industry experts representing both management and workers discuss whether U.S. employers should require their employees to be vaccinated.
As of May 7, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that about 150.4 million people have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, which is roughly 57 percent of adults in the U.S. On May 4, President Biden announced a goal to vaccinate 70 percent of adults in the country by July 4.
The live-streamed event, Requiring the COVID-19 Vaccine, was produced by eCornell and Cornell’s Center for Innovative Hospitality Labor and Employment Relations and featured three Cornell alumni: David Sherwyn ’86, JD ’89, John and Melissa Ceriale, Professor of Hospitality Human Resources in the Cornell School of Hotel Administration (SHA); Abigail Charpentier ’95 (SHA), Vice President People and Culture – Americas, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts; and management-side attorney, David Ritter ’80, Partner, Barnes and Thornburg LLP. Rounding out the panel were plaintiffs’ attorney Christine Hogan, Partner, Wigdor LLC, and union representative John Boardman, Executive Secretary-Treasurer, UNITE HERE, Local 25.
Panelists considered the legality of requiring the COVID-19 vaccine, examining both religious and medical precedents for contesting a vaccine mandate. They largely agreed that the current legal climate in the U.S. supports employer vaccine requirements, with reasonable accommodations offered for religious and medical objections.
Looking beyond the legality issue, panelists also discussed the practical and operational implications of various vaccination policies. They shared expert insights on how employers can address health and safety considerations for both clients and workers, and anticipate the potential impacts of their vaccination policies on workplace diversity and culture.