Legal Question in Employment Law in California

I live in California and for the federal government, My question is-as a federal employee do I have the right to ask a coworker if they have taken the COVID vaccine? We have a policy that states if you have not been fully vaccinated you must continue to wear mask yet some employees openly state they do not and will not take the vaccination and refuse to mask up; if they do not want to identify as taking the vaccine they must continue to mask up. I have openly talked to the supervisor and the employees still do not mask up. I understand that the employees do not have to take the vaccine and they do not have to state if they have or have not I just want them to mask up if they have not been vaccinated. Our General of the installation has put out his report that "if you have not been fully vaccinated you must wear a make while inside". One of my jobs is to let the employees know the new updates and guidance that is issued, which I have done. When I read the first statement of "if you are not fully vaccinated you must wear a mask inside the work area and have a right not to answer if you are vaccinated or not but if you select not to answer, then you must wear the mask"...which they do not do. My supervisor told me if I ask any employee if they are vaccinated they were going to give me up on a counseling statement. My issue is that I am 69 and have my own health issues, I feel that the unmasked employees could put my health in jeopardy. I have stated to the 2 employees that brag about not being vaccinated to please mask up but they don't even take notice. One on them told me that it was against HIPPA for me to tell them that...I didn't ask about the vaccine but everyone jumps to that in there mind. One of the employees stated "I have my shot I just wanted to pull your chain to get you " I was stunned that an employee would deliberately be so hatefully to be that deceitful with something that could cause stress, illness or even death to fellow employee. I don't want to get my boss in trouble but the rumor mill says I will receive a counseling statement tomorrow for asking employees if they have the vaccination, even though I did not ask any employee about the vaccine. I just want those that are not vaccinated to wear mask. Sorry I kept repeating some things over and over, I am worried, upset, and stressed. This is the kind of thing that I could lose my job over or be suspend.


Asked on 6/27/21, 9:30 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Timothy McCormick Haapala, Thompson & Abern, LLP

First off, HIPAA has absolutely zero application unless you work in a health care services office or facility. Second, if your supervisor is not enforcing policy, take it "upstairs" before they do. Follow your agency policies and procedures to the letter and document what you do and say. Kick it as far upstairs as you have to in order to get compliance with the agency policy. If it's getting your boss in trouble or you getting in trouble, screw your boss.

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Answered on 6/28/21, 5:55 pm


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