Consumer rights lawyer says businesses asking customers for proof of vaccination could be risky

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- With Milwaukee’s health order and mask mandate set to expire in less than two weeks, is it legal for employers to ask workers for their vaccine status? What about businesses, can they ask customers for proof of vaccination?

Milwaukee consumer rights lawyer, Nathan DeLadurantey, says if a business decides to ask for vaccine record information from their customer, it could open the door to some risks.

“Let’s assume that the person doesn’t mind answering, that store then has a duty to safeguard that information and protect against unauthorized disclosure,” said Nathan DeLadurantey, with DeLadurantey Law Office.

DeLadurantey says aside from making sure people’s vaccine information remains safe, stores will also have to find ways to accommodate people who may not be able to get the vaccine due to religious and medical reasons.

“If a business is going to be asking those questions and they’re doing it in the wrong manner, I think they’re subjecting themselves to massive litigation,” he says.

“Good business practice is whatever makes your customers and your workforce the most comfortable” said Steve Baas, senior vice president for government affairs at Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce.

For employers, asking workers to provide proof of a COVID-19 vaccination is okay to do, but guidance from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says:

“Employers may want to warn employees not to provide any medical information as part of the proof to avoid implicating the Americans with Disabilities Act.”

“Patience is going to be important and people are going to have to listen to their employees, every workplace situation is different,” Baas says.

The Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce says lifting of mask mandates and health orders gives businesses and employers the opportunity to customize their own policies instead of a one size fits all model. Baas says as businesses navigate this new territory, communication is key.

“Don’t overthink it, move forward with confidence, move forward with optimism and I think the public’s confidence is going to come around,” he adds.

Baas says many businesses aim to please their customers, so oftentimes they don’t want to challenge and confront customers unnecessarily.

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