GREENWOOD, Ind – An updated policy states employees of the city of Greenwood must prove they are vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to be exempt from the city’s mask requirement.
The city’s previous policy included a vaccination exemption to the mask rule, but it operated on an honor system.
“The overwhelming majority of employees are no longer wearing masks, and we’ve had some employees come down with Covid,” said Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers.
The policy, approved by the Board of Public Works and Safety, now says employees must present their vaccination card to the city’s Human Resources Department if they don’t want to mask up.
“If they’ve been vaccinated, and they want to show proof of their vaccination to our HR department, then they won’t be required to wear a mask,” Myers said. “If you’re working on duty, no matter inside or outside, in your own vehicle, everybody is required to wear a mask if they’ve not produced the card,” Myers said.
State law currently prohibits cities, towns and other public employers from requiring employees to get vaccinated or prove that they have. Myers says Greenwood’s policy stays on the right side of that law by making it optional.
“We’re not forcing anybody to be vaccinated,” Myers said. “We’re just saying if you have been vaccinated and if you do want to prove, or show proof of that card, then you don’t have to wear a mask.”
“What they’re saying here is not wearing a mask is a privilege,” said employment attorney, Stephanie Hahn.
Hahn says the key to Greenwood’s policy being legal is the fact that the choice is left up to employees.
“I don’t think that the city of Greenwood is doing anything wrong, in that they are not violating either the letter or the spirit of the law,” Hahn said. “An employee doesn’t have to disclose whether they’re vaccinated or not. He or she can just wear a mask.”
Cities like Bloomington and Fort Wayne currently require employees to wear masks on the job regardless of vaccination status. Indianapolis is currently requiring masks be worn by everyone, employees and the public, inside the downtown City-County building and at Parks facilities.
Myers said Greenwood’s policy makes its mask requirement more lenient by giving employees an opportunity to opt-out of it.
“I don’t want, and I can’t afford for my people to get sick,” Myers said. “I want them to be healthy, I want their families to be healthy, I want the people around them to be healthy.”
Still, when asked if he was concerned about political blowback over the new policy:
“Absolutely, I’ve already received it,” Myers said.