MCCCD announces requirement for employees to receive vaccine [updates]

UPDATE: Georgia federal court issued nationwide injunction blocking enforcement of the Federal vaccine mandate. MCCCD employee vaccine requirement no longer in effect as of Dec. 7.

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Following President Biden’s Executive Order, Maricopa County Community College District announced its employees must receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Employees have until Jan. 7 to either receive the vaccine or apply for medical or religious accommodation.

“Because MCCCD has covered federal contracts, this Executive Order applies to all employees of our system, including faculty, staff, student workers, full/part-time, temporary employees, and volunteers,” said MCCCD Interim Chancellor, Dr. Steven Gonzales, in an email notification to employees.

The mandate would also include employees working remotely, even if they will never set foot on campus.

Although the Federal Vaccine Mandate requires employers and employees to be in compliance with the mandate by Dec. 8, MCCCD employees have until Jan. 7. Employees can also apply for accommodation based on a medical disability or a sincerely held religious belief.

“If an employee fills out a religious accommodation and mentions that it’s a personal ideology or a political ideology, or something that doesn’t actually meet the definition of a sincerely held religious belief, but is more political or personal, then that would be rejected,” said Melissa Flores, Interim of the General Counsel, at a town hall meeting.

Some employees do not agree with the mandate and do not plan to receive the vaccine.

“As of this moment I am not planning to take the vaccine; I will not be working at MCC if the only choice is to take the shot,” said Ben Draper, a professor at Mesa Community College. “I do feel that I have to take some sort of stand as this is a directive that is forcing us to do things that have not been asked in the past. Someone has to take a stand or we will lose other rights later. This is quite extreme since the likelihood of my dying from COVID is very small.”

What are the consequences for an employee not willing to receive the vaccine?

“As part of our compliance, any employees who have not complied will be placed on an unpaid leave of absence pending a review of their employment status. We are working through a process to provide more detail about any employee that is not in compliance, and that information will be made available on the website,” said Megan Tormey, HR Director of the district office, at a town hall meeting

If an employee neither receives the vaccination, nor files for accommodation, they face losing their job.

“Yes, the individual can be terminated. Of course, we’re going to be providing him or her some coaching and go through the progressive discipline in order for the employee to have ample opportunity to comply,” said Judy Castellanos from the district office, human resources, at a town hall meeting.

Among other factors, the choice for MCCCD to comply with the mandate is a financial one.

“We currently have 10 large federal contracts, so we are talking upwards of a couple million dollars. We can’t piecemeal compliance so it would be all or nothing. Not only would we lose federal money, but our students would lose opportunities and our ability to educate veterans and active duty would be lost as well,” said Flores at a town hall meeting for MCCCD employees.

For more information regarding the district’s mandate, visit MCCCD’s website.

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