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Vaccine Tracker: Can your boss require you to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Updated: May. 21, 2021 at 6:26 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - On this edition of the Vaccine Tracker we’re asking the question, can your employer require you to get the COVID-19 vaccine. This is a complicated issue and I will have several links for more information posted to the bottom of this story.

An attorney I spoke with says the answer is a “qualified yes”, your employer can require you to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

What that “qualified” piece means, for example, if a person cannot get the vaccine due to an approved ADA medical condition/disability, they are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act and must be provided reasonable accommodation to continue to work. If a person has a religious objection, they will also have to be provided accommodation.

There is no federal law prohibiting an employer from requiring the vaccine. Indiana and Michigan do not have laws prohibiting mandatory vaccinations.

So, can you be fired for not getting the vaccine if your employer requires it? It is possible, but it is not that simple.

“If you mandate something there can be disciplinary consequences for disobeying that mandate, but here’s the thing, employers should not just pull the trigger if an employee says no. That’s a problem. If an employee says no, steps ought to be taken to see if the employee can be accommodated in doing the essential functions of their job in another way,” Dan Eaton says. He’s a legal analyst and attorney with Seltzer, Caplan. McMahon, Vitek lawfirm.

There are bills in Indiana and Michigan that would put a stop to employers having the ability to mandate COVID-19 vaccines. Those bills in Indiana are House Bill 1488 and Senate Bill 74. In Michigan there is House Bill 4471. All are currently sitting in committee and have not been voted on. You can read those at the links below.

http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2021/bills/house/1488#document-1ff85849

http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2021/bills/senate/74#document-94ebd1f5

https://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(4o5xq5h3vi0w2ifv1cg2asc3))/mileg.aspx?page=getObject&objectName=2021-HB-4471

I’m told that whether it is mandated vaccines or any part of the pandemic, there will be court cases that continue because of COVID-19 even after we put it behind us.

“There is going to be litigation arising out of these mandates, arising out of the vaccine, arising out of everything. The fact of the matter is the coronavirus has been moving faster than the speed of law. There will be lingering legal issues long beyond the time that the pandemic has ended,” Eaton says.

Of course, if you have a question about your particular situation with regard to mandated vaccines, you should consult an attorney.

Also, while researching this topic I learned there is a Supreme Court Case from 1905, Jacobson v. Massachusetts where the court ruled that the state has the power to mandate vaccinations. The court says that individual liberty is not absolute and that liberty is subject to the police power of the state.

https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/197/11/

Here are a number of links with more insight into this topic:

https://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/can-employers-require-the-vaccine-legal-expert-answers/2610824/

https://www.freep.com/story/news/health/2021/05/18/mask-rules-michigan-cdc-guidelines-mandate-covid/5146614001/

https://www.eeoc.gov/wysk/what-you-should-know-about-covid-19-and-ada-rehabilitation-act-and-other-eeo-laws

https://k-glaw.com/blog/client-alert-can-employers-require-employees-to-take-the-covid-19-vaccine/

https://www.bcclegal.com/2021/03/02/can-my-employer-require-me-to-get-the-covid-19-vaccine/

https://www.msn.com/en-us/autos/other/can-your-employer-require-you-to-get-the-covid-vaccine/vp-BB1gQaXl

And on Friday, St. Joseph County in Indiana had an COVID-19 update, here is a short breakdown of what they had to say on the vaccine front and hospitalizations.

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