Questions and Answers on Vaccine Mandates for Casino Employees


President Biden announced a plan to step up the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic that included new rules requiring employers with 100 or more employees to mandate their workers vaccinated or get tested every week.

The fifteen casesos in Pennsylvania collectively employed on 16,000 people. Many have questions about the vaccine’s mandate. PlayPennsylvania turned towards Lee D. Moylan, partner and president of the Labor and Employment Law practice group at Klehr Harrison Harvey Branzburg in Philadelphia, to give his expert opinion.

Like all service industries, Pennsylvania casinos are looking for people to hire. What will be the impact of the mandates on the current casino staff and on the already small labor pool? Robert ambrose, a former executive, consultant and educator of an Atlantic City casino gives us his thoughts.

Can casinos require employees to be vaccinated?

Under federal law – some state laws may prohibit mandates – employers can legally require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Can I get a vaccine exemption?

Moylan explained that employees who cannot get vaccinated due to a disability or a sincerely held religious belief may be entitled to an exemption from the vaccination mandate if a Reasonable accommodation can be given to them to allow them to carry out their work in safety.

Some examples of accommodation:

  • Regular tests
  • Allow the employee to continue working from home
  • Separate the employee’s workspace from others
  • Require the employee to double the masks.

“Employers should determine if reasonable accommodations can be provided and ensure that they cannot be provided before terminating an employee for not getting the vaccine,” Moylan added.

What happens if employees are not vaccinated?

The Department of Labor and OSHA will impose penalties of $ 14,000 per violation.

It’s unclear exactly when the rule will be released, how agencies will order companies to implement the requirements, and how long the grace period is to come into compliance, but I don’t think it’s unrealistic to conclude that all of this. could happen before the end of the year, ”Moylan said.

Is there any legal precedent for this?

Schools require students to be vaccinated. Health care workers should be vaccinated against influenza and tuberculosis.

“It seems so different, maybe because of its politicization. I think very few people had heard of emergency use authorization before the pandemic, ”Moylan said.

Cost of tests, paid leave to recover

Moylan thinks so is probable of Biden’s speech that employers will be necessary for pay employees for the time to get and collect the vaccine. However, it is still not clear whether employers will be required to compensate employees for the time it takes to get tested and wait for the results.

In addition, since the test is an employment requirement, it is possible that the costs of the test will have to be paid by the employer if the cost, when subtracted from the salary of a non-exempt employee, would result in the employee payment below minimum wage.

Can a job posting list COVID vaccine as a requirement?

A number of messages already are. The job offers listed compulsory vaccination increased by 242% last month on Indeed.

Moylan said best practice for job postings that choose to include vaccination requirements should add exceptions for:

  • Disability or sincere religious belief or
  • A statement on the employer’s commitment to provide equal opportunities to all individuals

What do the vaccination mandates mean for the PA gaming industry?

As a former casino industry executive turned college instructor, Robert ambrose is able to offer a unique perspective.

Casinos – like all other businesses – are still navigating uncharted waters. After being forced to close in March 2020 for about three months to slow the spread of COVID, they reopened with heavy security restrictions. Now casinos are working through vaccine mandates and a labor shortage. Every casino is on a hiring wave, and job fairs are apparently held almost weekly.

Ambroise said:

“The lack of seasonal support throughout the region has certainly had a negative impact on customer service in both Atlantic City and Pennsylvania resort operations this summer. Current employees also feel stress as they have to work overtime to fill labor shortages. “

Regarding the impact of vaccination warrants on casinos, Ambrose said:

“If the mandate becomes law, then those who refuse will move on to other professions that do not require vaccination. This further contributes to staff shortages until the positions are eventually filled.

Whether in Pennsylvania or across the country, the debate will continue in the short term. Industry leaders need to take a proactive approach to communicating and educating staff. When you mandate and push, some employees adopt a defensive posture. When you educate, understanding is established and there is a better chance of winning over employees.

Main image Matt Rourke / AP

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