Free Enterprise, Employer Vaccine Mandates, and Bans on Employer Mandates

John Garen
University of Kentucky

Abstract: Private companies have often mandated COVID-19 vaccines for employees, with workers facing vaccination or loss of their job.  State legislatures have considered bills that limit private mandates.  Is this anti- free enterprise?  I conclude that private sector COVID-19 vaccine mandates can be legitimately called into question from a free-enterprise perspective.  There are two primary reasons:  (1) many private firms are incentivized and/or pressured into following government “recommendations” for such mandates and; (2) there are serious common law contract rights for employee privacy and autonomy that are likely violated.  Due to the widespread adoption of vaccine mandates, employees have reduced options to avoid vaccination. This raises the issue of whether legislatures should intervene and limit private mandates.  I discuss various options in this respect and, though all are imperfect, they may be the “lesser of evils.” 


Published: October, 2022

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