LA Supreme Court Says Private Employers May Mandate Employee Vaccinations

In Hayes v. University Health Shreveport, the Louisiana Supreme Court upheld a private employer’s COVID vaccine mandate. Relying on the state’s well-established employment-at-will doctrine, the court held that a private employer is entitled to set whatever conditions and terms of employment it wants, including a COVID vaccine mandate, provided those conditions and terms do not run afoul of federal and state laws.

The lawsuit was filed by several employees who challenged a mandatory COVID vaccine policy that required all employees to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 29, 2021, absent any religious or medical accommodation exemptions. Employees who failed to comply with the vaccine policy were subject to disciplinary action, including but not limited to termination. The Louisiana Supreme Court said the employment-at-will doctrine allows employers to dismiss at-will employees at any time for any reason, unless it violates existing federal or state law. The ruling could be beneficial to private employers that seek to enforce mandatory vaccine policies in at-will employment states.