COVID-19 Vaccine & Returning to Work | Can You Be Forced To Get It?

Apr 15 2021

Amanda DeMatteis: Hi, Josh.

Josh Goodbaum: Hi, Amanda.

DeMatteis: I hear we’re going to talk about some COVID-related issues today.

Goodbaum: Yeah, so we’re living in the age of a pandemic – kind of unbelievable – and so I thought we might try to answer a question that often comes up from people working through a pandemic. We’ve got this vaccine now – we actually have several of them – and now people are trying to figure out whether to get the vaccine and, in particular, they are asking, “Can my employer force me to get the vaccine in order to return to work?” So, what’s the answer to that question?

DeMatteis: The simple answer to that question is: Yes, your employer can require you to get the vaccine. But there’s two really critical exceptions to that. The first is if you have a sincerely held religious belief and the second is if you are suffering from a disability that would prevent you from getting the vaccine. So, two things you need to do if you fall into either of those categories. Number one, you have to tell your employer, right? “Hey, I have a sincerely held religious belief,” or “Hey, I have a disability.” You’ve got to put them on notice. Number two, you need to ask for a reasonable accommodation. Maybe that’s just continuing to use PPE in the workplace; maybe it’s social distancing; maybe it isn’t getting the vaccine. You have to work through that with your employer. But those are two critical things: Put them on notice, and ask for a reasonable accommodation.

Goodbaum: Okay, so really good answer to that question. For the majority of people, the answer is going to be you can lose your job if you refuse to get the vaccine. But if you’ve got a sincerely held religious belief or you’re a person who lives with a disability that could interact negatively with the vaccine, then you’ve got some options, and there’s a process you can go through. So hopefully that’s helpful, useful information for you. If you want some more information, feel free to head to our website, Take care now.

DeMatteis: Take care.

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