Depending on your career, you may work for a company that has requirements for employees to get certain types of vaccinations. For example, many employers in the health care industry require their employees to get vaccinated when they will come into contact with people who have immune systems that are compromised. While these types of requirements are fairly rare in other industries, there remains some legal controversy about when employers are allowed to mandate that their employees receive vaccinations. The attorneys at Swartz Swidler can review your employer’s vaccination policy and explain to you what your rights might be.
Mandatory workplace vaccination policies
During flu season, some health care industry employers mandate that their employees receive the flu vaccine. Many hospitals, university medical centers, and outpatient clinics require their employees to get flu vaccinations unless they have medical or religious exceptions.
The goal of mandatory vaccination policies at workplaces is to protect the workers who are caring for patients who are infected while also protecting patients from workers who are infected. Mandatory flu vaccines are promoted by many doctor groups, health groups, and governmental agencies for their employees for this purpose.
Other employers that are not a part of the health care industry might encourage their employees to get vaccinated against the flu. This is because the employers want their employees to miss fewer days of work and to maintain their levels of productivity. However, these policies may not be mandatory. Some employers do other things to fight the flu. They might increase the available paid sick leave, ask workers who are ill to remain at home, and allow infected workers to work remotely while they are ill.
If your employer has a mandatory vaccination policy, you may be able to avoid getting a flu vaccine if you have specific religious beliefs or based on your medical history.
Legality of mandatory workplace vaccination policies
In the U.S., a majority of workers work at will. This means that their employers are able to fire them whenever they want and for any reason. The exception to this general rule is that employers are not allowed to fire workers for illegal reasons. Whether your employer is allowed to fire workers for failing to get flu vaccines when it has a mandatory vaccination policy will depend on the circumstances. In some states, health care workers are mandated to receive flu and other types of vaccines. However, New Jersey does not have a law that mandates employees to get vaccinated against the flu. If you work under an employment contract that mandates vaccinations, you may have to get vaccinated. If you have a medical or religious exemption to the policy, you may be able to avoid a vaccine.
Many companies have their own policies for voluntary vaccinations and encourage their workers to get vaccinated. They might even offer vaccines at the workplace. As long as you are given the choice to participate, these types of policies are fine.
Mandatory vaccination laws are controversial. Some states have decided to initiate legislation to mandate vaccinations in schools and workplaces. With the recent outbreak of measles, more states have proposed stricter vaccination laws.
Vaccines and employment contracts
If you have an employment contract, your employer might require you to get vaccinated as a contractual provision. You should read through your contract to see if you are required to get vaccinated. If you are a member of a union, you should also review your collective bargaining agreement to learn whether it addresses mandatory vaccinations.
Anti-discrimination laws and vaccines
Mandatory vaccination policies may sometimes be in violation of anti-discrimination laws. If the company for which you work mandates vaccines, you may be able to claim an exemption based on your religion or your medical history.
If you have a medical disability that would make getting vaccinated dangerous for you, the Americans with Disabilities Act mandates that your employer must provide you with a reasonable accommodation upon your request. Your employer might let you avoid getting the vaccine if you have a doctor’s note that explains your problem. For example, if you have an egg allergy, you might be able to avoid taking egg-based vaccines.
If your religious beliefs prevent you from seeking medical care or from getting vaccinated, you will likely qualify for an exemption. You might be required to take other measures to avoid spreading disease such as wearing a mask, however.
Schedule a consultation with Swartz Swidler
Mandatory vaccination policies have been controversial. While vaccines are important to stop the spread of disease, some people have valid grounds to claim exemptions from them. If your employer has a mandatory vaccination policy, you might want to talk to the attorneys at Swartz Swidler if you believe that you fall under a qualifying exemption. Schedule a consultation by filling out our online contact form today.