Vaccine protections and rights for workers & employers

Now that the COVID vaccines are about to get emergency use approval and make their way into the public, what are your rights as an employee? Can an employer require an employee to get the vaccine? What exemptions might there be? We talked with Jeff Brodin, Brodin HR Law about this. He is a labor attorney. We ask what the rights are for the employees regarding vaccines. Brodin said the first thing to look at is what is the size of the employer. If it’s an employer under 15 employees, they have a lot of freedom to do what they want to do without the employees having protections.

Some protections include the American disabilities act and Title 7. These acts provide employees of employers with more than 15 employees, the ability to object to mandatory vaccinations based on a disability or a religious belief. Although, an employer can require workers to get vaccinated with those exceptions. But they have in the past provided guidance with the swine flu in 2009. They’ve indicated that they will follow previous pandemic responses. It has not been specifically stated, but it is pretty clear that it will be required Brodin said. He thinks the CDC will go as far as saying that employers should require vaccinations of all employees.

We ask if there is protection for workers who do not believe vaccines are safe. Brodin said there is no protection for that. He said that person can be required to take one or lose their job. If an employee were to object to the flu shot from a safety perspective, saying they don’t believe the vaccine is safe, or if two or more employees objected to it, the employer can’t retaliate against them but they can still require them to get the vaccine. We ask if employers are liable if they don’t mandate shots. Brodin talks about CDC guidelines and what is required to have a safe workplace.

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Jeff Brodin, Brodin HR Law

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