What Happens if a TLC Driver Refuses to Take the Vaccine?
NYC restaurant worker concerned about potential impacts of vaccine on near term pregnancy goal is fired. Restaurant maybe legally allowed to fire an employee who refuses the vaccine
This was inevitable. An employee’s refusal to take the vaccine has led to their firing. As the interview clip highlights the NYC restaurant worker, a woman who worked at the Red Hook Tavern, wasn’t necessarily against the vaccine, but rather had concerns around whether it could have negative consequences on a future near term pregnancy. According to employment attorney Felicia Ennis of Warshaw Burstein LLP, EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity) rules makes it clear terminating an employee on the grounds of not taking a vaccine is possible as long as the employer shows why it poses a significant threat. What makes this case particularly quirky is the fact that the CDC states “getting vaccinated is a personal choice for people who are pregnant” and even warns that “…the actual risks of mRNA vaccines to the pregnant person and her fetus are unknown because these vaccines have not been studied in pregnant women.” While the restaurant worker is not currently pregnant, she clearly states she is trying and that her plans were already delayed by the pandemic.
Given all TLC drivers, similar to restaurant workers, are eligible for the vaccine, the question that undoubtedly will arise is what are the consequences for a TLC driver who doesn’t take the vaccine? What makes the question uniquely complicated is the fact (1) almost all drivers are independent contractors (i.e. not employees) and (2) the NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) could also be forced to establish clear guidelines as their mandate covers public safety. I wrote about this subject a few weeks ago when it was first announced TLC drivers would be eligible for the vaccine. I paste below my thoughts again on how this could play out.
…Two other dynamics that may play out are (1) Soft pressure from Uber and Lyft to encourage vaccination and penalize those who don’t get vaccinated and (2) the TLC having to create new rules related to public safety and unvaccinated drivers. Some thoughts below.
Soft Pressure from Uber & Lyft
Firstly, I don’t think it’s possible for Uber, Lyft, yellow cab garages, and black car bases to officially bar unvaccinated drivers from working on their platforms. However, I have no doubt they can effectively require the vaccination in a variety of ways. For example, Uber or Lyft may ask passengers whether they have a preference for a driver that has been vaccinated. In this instance, consumers are effectively driving vaccination compliance on the majority of the driver population. If Uber and Lyft do go down this route it would only be fair to give drivers the same option in regards to the passengers they pick up.
TLC Considerations Related to Public Safety
As the regulator of the NYC for-hire transportation sector, the TLC’s mandate is not only regulating for-hire drivers and vehicles but ensuring public safety. Similar to requiring all drivers to pass a drug test (obviously a much more uncontroversial example), will the TLC create a mechanism that rewards drivers who get vaccinated? If the required Vision Zero stickers on the front windshields of TLC vehicles aim to help protect the general public from accidents, could a similar regulation be created to help protect the riding public from being infected with COVID?
Let’s see how it all plays out, but I believe we are entering a world where a COVID vaccine “passport” will be required to do many jobs, attend events and interact in many public spaces. Given the NYC for-hire transportation industry is a sector that involves a variety of close in-person interactions, I can’t see how the industry can avoid some sort of new requirements related to the vaccine.
Let me know your thoughts below!
Auto Marketplace NYC (fka TLCMKT) Newsletter is written by Dawood Mian, Founder & CEO of Auto Marketplace NYC. He covers the NYC for-hire transportation industry and related news. Search Auto Marketplace NYC for cars, parts, tires, mechanics, reviews & more. Find great deals at TLCMKT.COM