UVA Law professor breaks down latest on vaccine and mask mandates

Published: Apr. 21, 2022 at 3:25 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - With so many rulings and opinions on masking and vaccine mandates, a professor at the University of Virginia School of Law is breaking down where things stand.

“I still think a private employer can require its employees to be vaccinated. Public employees is a very different situation that depends on the decision making at a state level,” professor Margaret Riley said.

In Virginia, state employees can’t be held to a vaccine mandate.

“A private employer can put in any mitigation methods that it thinks are necessary to protect itself and its employees and its customers as long as it doesn’t discriminate,” she said.

That includes requiring masks.

“They are still able to enforce it, whether they wish to fully enforce it against someone who refuses to be compliant,” Riley said. “It’s a whole another story, of course.”

Right now, with case COVID-19 counts low, Riley believes the issue of forced masking won’t play out in the courts, but predicting the future of the virus is tough.

Another outbreak could change things.

“I can easily imagine, for example, a school has an outbreak of a particularly highly-transmissible variant and it needs to try and protect its population and at that point we’re back in court,” Riley said.

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