Iowa legal expert: unclear if employers can mandate COVID-19 vaccines

A legal expert says its unclear if Iowa employers can force these mandates for coronavirus vaccines like some large companies have chosen to do.
Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 7:43 AM CDT
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DES MOINES, Iowa (KCCI) - Many companies, like Walmart and Google, are imposing COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

But a legal expert says it’s unclear if Iowa employers can implement these mandates.

Denise Hill of Drake University says nothing in federal law prohibits employers from mandating COVID-19 vaccines. But one Iowa law signed this past May makes the answer less clear.

House file 889 bans any “vaccine passports” and prohibits companies and governments from asking people for proof of vaccination.

But the law also extends the prohibition to any “other person who is invited onto the premises of the business or governmental entity.”

Hill says this may broaden the law’s scope.

“Certainly some would argue that, that means people who are employed,” Hill said. “I don’t think that at this time, most businesses are considering it to be that way, and I think that’s an open question.”

President Biden says the White House is considering requiring federal employees to get vaccinated.

If they choose not to, they’ll face regular testing and mitigation efforts.

Hill says federal workers based in Iowa would not be exempt under state law.

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