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Legal action against businesses that ask for proof of vaccine? Experts say there’s no case

Here’s a question that’s come up quite a bit in recent weeks- as the state and CDC released new guidance for vaccinated individuals and masks: Who can legally ask about your vaccination status?

The state guidance, which mirrors that from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says that anyone who is fully-vaccinated can go mask free in most situations. The guidance also allows individual businesses to make their own policies about masking.

The short, legal answer is ‘anyone’. Whether it’s an employer or business inquiring about a customer for its own internal policies.


Karen Sanders, senior counsel with Tully Rinckey PLLC., spoke with News10NBC about questions of legality around asking for proof of vaccination.

Sanders says it’s not discrimination for a business to treat vaccinated individuals differently from those who are not. “Discrimination is defined by various statutes,” she explained. “So you have to be discriminating against someone because they are in a particular protected class.” In New York, those include race, color, national origin, religion, age, disability, citizenship status, but does not include vaccination status. “There really isn’t a claim of discrimination because it’s not a protected class under any of the discrimination statutes.”

It all boils down to personal choice- and the suggestion that there is a HIPPA violation waiting for any business that asks for proof of vaccination for unmasked individuals doesn’t hold up. “They can ask for your card and if you don’t want to give it, then they have the choice to say well then you can’t come into our business,” Sanders explained to News10NBC. “What people don’t understand is it only applies to medical entities and insurance companies who get this personal, protected information.”



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