Yes, businesses and colleges can legally keep the unvaccinated out

Aug 30, 2021, 10:46 AM | Updated: Aug 2, 2022, 12:38 pm

vaccine mandate...

FILE: Epidemiology nurse Amy Carter tells the Weber-Morgan Board of Health that COVID cases among school-age children are rising, while opponents of mask mandates wait for their turn to speak. (Photo: Weber-Morgan Health Department)

(Photo: Weber-Morgan Health Department)

SALT LAKE CITY —  Can businesses ask for proof of vaccination from customers or employees, or does that amount to discrimination against the unvaccinated? Isn’t that unconstitutional?

With recent developments in the news about vaccine requirements, people on social media may argue those mandates violate their rights. So we did some research to find out what the law actually says. 

Businesses can say no to the unvaccinated

The federal government does not mandate (require) a COVID-19 vaccination for people, but . . . 

Employers can legally require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to re-enter the workplace,  according to guidance issued in June by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). And vaccine refusal could lead to a job loss.

The EEOC confirmed that a COVID-19 vaccination requirement by itself would not violate Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), according to AARP. Also, the EEOC allows employers to mandate the flu vaccine, among many others, to keep workers healthy. You can learn more about that at

Businesses may legally offer vaccine incentives

Also, employers can offer incentives for employees to voluntarily confirm they have been vaccinated, but those should be optional, the EEOC said, according to

More from the AARP: These Companies Pay Employees to Get Vaccinated

For example, some companies may offer incentives in the form of insurance discounts or rebates for healthy choices. Businesses may also penalize employees for choosing to stay unvaccinated while still allowing them to make that choice — such as Delta charging more per month for insurance for its unvaccinated employees. 

Unvaccinated customers left out 

But what about customers? Can businesses require customers to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19?

Social media posts claimed the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution prohibits businesses from asking about if customers are unvaccinated. The argument calls the question equivalent to “unreasonable searches and seizures.”

However, constitutional law experts dispute that argument. 

“The Fourth Amendment only applies to governmental searches and seizures and certainly not to businesses asking for proof of vaccination,” said Lawrence Gostin, a law professor at Georgetown University who specializes in public-health law, the AP reported in June.

What about colleges?

A public place, say a university, can’t require vaccinations, can they?

On Friday, the University of Utah indicated it intends to move toward a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for students, with more information to come next week. 

A letter from Utah’s Board of Higher Education informed presidents of colleges and universities in the state that they could choose to require vaccines so long as students received options to opt-out.

Most U.S. colleges already require vaccines for viral diseases like measles, mumps, and rubella. In addition, many require meningitis vaccination for incoming freshmen. Some attorneys say universities have the same right to mandate COVID-19 vaccines. 

The Department of Education permits employers to require their employees to get a COVID-19 vaccine, setting a precedent that courts have affirmed, according to Best Colleges: More than 700 U.S. colleges, including most prestigious schools and state flagships, say students coming to campus in the fall must get be vaccinated.

What about the armed forces?

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said in a memorandum Wednesday that all service members of the Department of Defense will need to be vaccinated, according to CBS News.

How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronavirus spreads person to person, similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Wear a mask to protect yourself and others per CDC recommendations.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet).
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities).
  • Obtain a flu shot.
  • Seek out the COVID-19 vaccine.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A 

Utah’s Coronavirus Information 

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Business + Economy

The TikTok logo is displayed on signage outside TikTok social media app company offices in Culver C...

By Samantha Delouya, CNN

Judge blocks Montana’s TikTok ban from taking effect on January 1

(CNN) — A federal judge on Thursday halted Montana’s TikTok ban, which was set to go into effect at the start of 2024. In a filing, US District Judge Donald Molloy said that despite the state government’s attempt to defend the law, “the current record leaves little doubt that Montana’s legislature and Attorney General were […]

22 hours ago

**This image is for use with this specific article only** Price hikes and spending cooled last mont...

Alicia Wallace, CNN

Price hikes and spending cooled last month, Fed’s preferred inflation gauge shows

The Commerce Department on Thursday delivered an early present to the Federal Reserve: The central bank’s favorite inflation gauge fell to its lowest level since the spring of 2021, and consumers lifted their foot off the gas pedal.

1 day ago

Breeze Airways airplanes. Breeze Airways announced plans Wednesday to add new service out of Ogden-...

Carter Williams,

Breeze Airways to add new Ogden flights, restoring airport’s commercial service

Breeze Airways announced plans Wednesday to add new service out of Ogden-Hinckley Airport beginning next year.

2 days ago

emergency savings account...

Curt Gresseth

Should employers match an emergency-savings account for employees?

A Utah financial planner outlines a new law allowing an emergency-savings account, with a matching employer contribution.

2 days ago

The Sugar House business district is pictured in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023....

Lindsay Aerts

New building proposal would triple height of Sugar House buildings

As reported by Building Salt Lake, the proposal seeks to allow for a 305-foot-tall building so long as they use sustainable materials.

3 days ago

Tesla CEO Elon Musk and his security detail depart the company's local office in Washington, U.S. J...

Oliver Darcy, CNN

Major brands are not only pausing ads on Elon Musk’s X. They’re stepping away from the platform altogether

A number of media brands have not only paused their paid marketing campaigns on Elon Musk's X but have ceased posting on it altogether.

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Human hand holding a protest banner stop vaping message over a crowded street background....

Prosperous Utah Communities

Utah’s Battle to Protect Youth from Vaping Epidemic Faces New Threat as Proposed Rule Threatens Progress

Utah's strict standards of nicotine levels in vaping products are at risk, increasing health hazards associated with use. Read more about how you can advocate for a better future for Utah's youth.

Aerial photo of Bear Lake shoreline with canopies and people camped out on the beach...

Visit Bear Lake

Last-Minute Summer Vacation Planning? Check Out Bear Lake!

Bear Lake is the perfect getaway if you are last-minute summer vacation planning. Enjoy activities with your whole family at this iconic lake.

Yes, businesses and colleges can legally keep the unvaccinated out