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Can My Boss Force Me to Get Vaccinated?

June 24th, 2019

Recent measles outbreaks may put employers and their employees in a bind. Measles is extremely contagious, infecting up to 90 percent of those who encounter a person with an active infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Most people receive measles vaccinations as children, so the disease had nearly disappeared in the U.S. In fact, the CDC stated measles was eliminated back in 2000. For most victims, measles is a nuisance. However, for a small but significant percentage, the disease can cause blindness or neurological problems.

However, a strong anti-vaccination trend among some people means more are vulnerable to measles than in recent decades. Whether an employer can force an employee to get vaccinated depends on whether there is an official public health emergency. Requiring employees to receive an annual flu shot is unlikely unless an influenza emergency is declared by authorities.

Americans with Disabilities Act

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers cannot force employees to undergo any medical procedures, and that includes vaccinations. In most circumstances, any employer forcing a worker to undergo a medical procedure is grounds for a lawsuit. However, if there is a public health crisis and the employer tells workers they must either receive a vaccination or lose their job, or if the employee is fired, the court looks to public health officials or the CDC. The outcome of such litigation may depend on the individual case.

For example, in December 2018, the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a health care company’s right to terminate an employer who refused a measles vaccination. The fact that it was a health care company is critical. If a health care company does not want to fire an employee who refuses a vaccination, they may require those workers to wear masks while on the job or stay away from patients.

Religious and Health Grounds

Some workers who refuse vaccinations do so on religious or health grounds. Currently, it is unclear whether an employer can terminate an employee claiming a religious or health exemption from a measles vaccination.

Philadelphia Employment Attorneys at The Gold Law Firm P.C. Help Workers Facing Vaccination Issues in the Workplace

If you are facing issues in the workplace due to your stand on vaccination, you need the services of the experienced Philadelphia employment attorneys at The Gold Law Firm P.C. We will stand up for your rights no matter where you work. Call us at 215-569-1999 or contact us online today for a free consultation. Located in Pennsauken, New Jersey and Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, and South Jersey.

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