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Can employers mandate that workers be vaccinated?

In recent weeks, the American media has spent considerable time and resources discussing the issue of vaccination. Ever since a measles outbreak began at Disneyland, the media has debated the benefits and potential drawbacks of vaccination. In addition, a great deal of coverage has focused on individuals who opt not to vaccinate their children for a number of different reasons.

When herd immunity is weakened, many parents and medical professionals worry that vulnerable individuals will become ill as a result. Due to the sensitive nature of this issue, many individuals and organizations are debating whether schools should be able to mandate that children are vaccinated. In addition, some employers are questioning whether they should require their employees to submit themselves to certain vaccinations as well.

Under certain circumstances, it may seem reasonable that employers would want their workers to be vaccinated. For example, healthcare professionals, educators and daycare providers could make vulnerable individuals unable to be vaccinated ill if they refuse to be vaccinated. On the other hand, many workers would balk at the idea that they could be wrongful discharged because they refuse to be vaccinated.

Legally speaking, it is rare that an employer would be able to lawfully terminate or otherwise discriminate against an employee as a result of a vaccination-related issue. However, this is not an impossible scenario. If you have questions about this issue from either an employer standpoint or a worker standpoint, please do not hesitate to speak with a local attorney experienced in matters of employment law.

Source: Findlaw Free Enterprise, “Can You Require Employees to Be Vaccinated?” Mark Wilson, Feb. 10, 2015

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