CLEVELAND — According to employees who currently work for the Northeast Ohio company, Malley's Chocolates is requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for all workers and new hires.
Brianna Sherfey says she recently quit her job at the Cleveland-based business after company officials announced the vaccine mandate for workers and vendors. She told 3News that, among other reasons for resigning, the requirement was concerning to her.
"As a manager in my position at the time, they wanted us to start gathering who was vaccinated and who wasn't, which is when it all started to come up into policy," Sherfey said. "I thought it was very unusual and it played a huge part into me leaving."
The former Malley's employee provided 3News with an email sent out to workers discussing the company's vaccine policy, which states, in part:
"All employees must either establish that they have received the COVID-19 vaccine or obtain an approved exemption. Those who do not fulfill one of these two requirements within fifteen days of this notice will be placed on unpaid leave and their status will be evaluated to determine if employment will be continued."
Malley's owner Mike Malley declined to comment on company policy at this time.
So can employers legally require their workers to receive the COVID-19? Absolutely.
"Yes, companies can force their employees to either be vaccinated or not come to work-- but they can essentially force a mandate that employees have a vaccination in order to continue to come to work," Cleveland attorney Brian Eisen of The Eisen Law Firm explained.
There are certain exceptions to these rules, however.
"If you have a sincere religious objection or in order to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act," Eisen said. "Those are the general rule[s] that you have a legitimate basis not to get vaccinated."
According to the email sent to Malley's employees, the medical and religious exemptions were allowed the company, and Malley's said any workers who had exemption status would be able to continue working while still wearing a mask.
Despite her departure from the chocolate maker, Sherfey says she understands why Malley's made this decision.
"From a business standpoint, they have older clientele and they're trying to make sure their stores are safe," she admitted. "They're really trying to push that on their employees and their customers. They just want everyone to be safe but they do have to take into consideration people's rights and people's opinions."
Sherfey also says she wouldn't have had an issue if the vaccines were fully FDA approved, but she felt this decision was rushed. She is not vaccinated yet.
"I'm working to get vaccinated," she told us. "I'm just waiting for it to get FDA approved."
Learn more about vaccine mandate guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission here.