Can Employers Force Pregnant Women to Get Vaccinated?

Jul 22 2021

Josh Goodbaum: Hi Amanda.

Amanda DeMatteis: Hi Josh. What are we going to talk about today?

Josh Goodbaum: I thought we could return to the topic of COVID and vaccines because a lot of Connecticut employees are approaching us and they are asking not just should they or should they not get the vaccine, but in particular, they want to know, “Can my employer force me to get the vaccine as a condition of my employment?” The answer that we have been giving to people is, probably yes, you can be forced to obtain the vaccine as a condition of your employment with two important exceptions. One is for people with disabilities, where getting the vaccine might either put them at risk because of their condition or inhibit their treatment, and that is going to be based on a conversation with their physician. The second category are folks with sincerely held religious beliefs that might prohibit them from obtaining or getting vaccines. But there’s a third category that we want to talk about that’s based not on federal law like the other two, but based on a unique component of Connecticut state law. Could you tell us about that? 

Amanda DeMatteis: Yes, I can. This applies to pregnant women. Connecticut state law affords pregnant women a reasonable accommodation in the workplace if they need one. One of those may be not getting the COVID-19 vaccination if you and your health care provider find that that’s better for you during your pregnancy. Remember that under federal law and state law, you cannot be discriminated against on the basis of your pregnancy, which is of course, critically important. But this relates specifically to the COVID-19 vaccine and being able to get a reasonable accommodation. So what does that look like? Well, number one, as we have told you in the past, you have to tell your employer. Tell them “I’m pregnant. I need a reasonable accommodation and that reasonable accommodation is not getting the COVID-19 vaccine.” You can work with your employer to see what else might work for your specific situation. Remember, this is all on a case-by-case basis. Individual facts are super important. But if it doesn’t impose an undue hardship to your employer, you’re entitled to a reasonable accommodation on the basis of your pregnancy. Pregnancy in Connecticut means during conception, pregnancy, of course, the nine or ten months during the gestation period, and also your time as a new mom while breastfeeding. It’s really important for you to know what the law is in this area, know the rights that you have, and based on your medical condition and the pregnancy you are experiencing, if you need this reasonable accommodation, it is available to you.

Josh Goodbaum: So important to understand how Connecticut law protects pregnant women and new moms. We hope that’s helpful to you all. Take care.

Amanda DeMatteis: See ya.

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