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BACK TO WORK: Can remote employees be forced back to work in-person?

Some exemptions and accommodations apply
Posted at 6:06 PM, May 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-04 02:42:08-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The pandemic changed a lot of aspects of life as we know it but as the situation continues to improve across the United States, some workers are now grappling with another issue: the transition from remote to in-person work for the first time in more than a year.

Some jobs, such as essential first responders, and other positions did not have the opportunity to work remotely, including those in the hospitality industry.

Delia Garcia has continued to work as a guest room attendant with MGM Resorts International throughout the pandemic.

Garcia recently received her COVID-19 vaccine and she is encouraging others to do the same.

Vaccination rates continue to climb across the country and that means employers are beginning to bring back the workforce to in-person arrangements.

FORCED SHOTS: Can Nevada employers require workers to get COVID-19 vaccines?

It appears employers are within their rights to force a return to in-person work.

"The short answer is yes, you need to go through a thought process before you do it, but employers can do that," explained attorney Richard Dreitzer with Fennemore Craig law firm in Las Vegas.

Dreitzer is an expert who handles all types of employment law and business litigation.

He says the thoughtful and safe return to a physical workplace may come with additional requirements, such as showing proof of vaccination by the employee.

"Could there be a requirement set forth by the employer to say, you need to do X, Y, Z before you come back?" asked Reporter Joe Bartels.

"Yes, that is part of an employer's general obligation to keep a workplace safe and given that vaccines are plentiful and they are reasonably safe, there aren't any overwhelming safety concerns with them," said Dreitzer.

Dreitzer adds there are some exceptions such as religious or medical reasons that would prevent a requirement for some segment of the population.

He points out there have been some recent and temporary modifications to the federal Family Medical Leave Act which allows for additional accommodations for employees.

"When you're dealing with Covid related inconvenience, for example, childcare issues or taking care of an elderly parent or relative or any kind of thing like that, there's a temporary addition or modification of the Family Medical Leave Act which allows you to have accommodations for that," explained Dreitzer.

Employees do not health privacy rights when it comes to showing proof of a vaccine as a condition of continued employment or a return to in-person work, according to Dreitzer.