One California city has become embroiled in a battle over whether city employees should wear a "sticker" on their employee badges to show that they have been "fully vaccinated" should they opt not to wear a mask at the office. The city of Montclair (no, not the one in New Jersey) has declared that the policy will start next week, according to City Manager Edward Starr.
Starr argues the policy is designed to ensure that Montclair is in compliance with an edict issued in June by California's workplace safety board, which instructs all public employees in the state to submit evidence or sign a pledge attesting that they have been vaccinated if they opt to abstain from wearing a mask.
In response to recommendations from the CDC, California’s Department of Public Health has encouraged the use of stickers on employee ID badges "to demonstrate they have been fully vaccinated," Starr said.
But while Starr believes the policy won't lead to any "problematic" outcomes, one city councilman is opposing the new measure, arguing that it might make employees uncomfortable, and could lead to the city becoming embroiled in a lawsuit.
The legal precedence here is certainly confusing. While the CDC has gone so far as to offer a set of printable stickers that businesses can offer to their workers, there's no explicit guidance recommending that they be used. Now, city councilman Ben Lopez argues the policy is a violation of employee privacy.
"This policy is being rushed through and rammed down the throats of our employees with no legal counsel being sought and no discussion from our City Council," Lopez said during a council meeting earlier this week. "I think we are on shaky legal ground."
Councilman Lopez expresses concern that the stickers could make employees "uncomfortable" around one another and that they may even create a "level of ostracism" in the workplace.
Starr, however, has pushed back against Lopez's concerns that a "number of complaints" about the city's approach to certifying vaccination status had already been filed with state authorities. Starr openly challenged this allegations, claiming he hasn't heard of a single case in which a city employee had objected to how Montclair deals with these matters.
Councilman Lopez claimed that several city workers had told him they oppose the new policy, and in interviews with the local press, Lopez says he supports keeping the city's previous policy, whereby employees submitted paperwork documenting their status to their employer, but weren't asked to make a visible display affirming it to their fellow coworkers.
In recent months, policies requiring workers to wear stickers or badges affirming their vaccination status have triggered a heated backlash among vaccine skeptics.
But while Lopez pushes back against the policy in Montclair, pretty soon, cities across the US might be implementing something similar: NYC just made vaccination mandatory for all workers in the city's health and hospital workers.