Can My Job Force Me to Get a COVID-19 Vaccine?

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Unless you haven’t been paying attention to the news recently, you know that COVID-19 vaccinations started rolling out recently.  As a result, A lot of people are now asking if their employer can require them to get a vaccination. In most cases, the answer is yes, you can be required to take a COVID-19 vaccination. 

Direct Threat to Safety and Health of Public

Employers can have, as a condition of employment, a requirement that employees are vaccinated. This requirement rises from an employer’s duty to ensure the health and safety of others in their business operations.  Logically, this extends to making sure that their employees do not pose a  direct threat to the safety and health of others. Historically, companies can show that requiring vaccinations is an action taken to prevent a direct threat to the safety and health of others, and can make employees get them as a result. 

Exemptions to COVID-19 Vaccinations

There are two main scenarios where someone may be able to be exempt from getting a mandatory vaccination. One is if they have a qualifying disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (‘ADA”).  The other, is if they are claiming a religious exemption under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. If any of those scenarios happen to apply to you, then your employer would have to enter into a discussion of whether or not they can reasonably accommodate you.

What’s a Reasonable Accommodation?

A reasonable accommodation is not just whatever proposal you and doctor can agree on and send to the employer. With respect to vaccinations, a reasonable accommodation would be something that would allow you to continue to work without having to take the vaccination, but also without causing undue hardship to the employer. If the employer is unable to provide a reasonable accommodation, then your employer would be allowed to exclude you from the workplace. However, just because your employer could exclude you from the workplace, that doesn’t necessarily mean they can terminate your employment. 

Quickly Changing Landscape 

As with anything related to COVID-19, the laws are constantly changing as we speak.  But for something related to vaccinations, this is likely to continue to be the standard. If you are having issues with your employer refusing to accommodate an exemption from receiving the COVID-19 vaccination, contact me and schedule a free initial consultation so we can see what all we can do!

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James J. Hux is the Owner and Sole Attorney at Hux Law Firm, LLC. His practice areas include employment discrimination and general civil litigation throughout the State of Ohio.