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Refusing COVID Vaccine Puts Livelihoods at Risk | What Options do You Have?

While the COVID-19 vaccines and their boosters continue to roll out to the public, the Pew Research center has reported that one in four Americans said they would either “probably” or “definitely” not get the vaccine. So, what does that mean for those individuals when it affects their livelihood? Continue reading to learn some exceptions to mandates that employers can place over their employees.

Employers can legally require their employees to get vaccinated. They can even fire employees who are not willing. And in the midst of an unemployment crisis, Americans will really have to think twice about whether not receiving the vaccine is more important than keeping their job.

Would employers really terminate employees who don’t want the vaccine? The short answer is, yes. For many small businesses like restaurants, having all their employees vaccinated provides an advantage in the post-Covid era. Think about it: If a restaurant owner can say all their employees have been vaccinated, it makes customers feel safer and more relaxed eating there, which is necessary for their business.

Of course, there are a few noteworthy exceptions to the vaccine mandate.

  • Unionized workforces: If a workforce is unionized, the collective bargaining agreement could require negotiating with the union before requiring a vaccine.

  • Medical reasons: Employees under the Americans with Disabilities Act can request an exemption. In this case, the employer would have to provide proper accommodation, like allowing the employee to work from home.

  • Religious beliefs: Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, people can potentially opt out if they consider the vaccine a violation of a “sincerely held” religious belief. See more information on this below.

One thing is clear though: If employers do require their employees to be vaccinated, they are not liable for side effects that may develop. These would be routed through worker’s compensation programs and treated like an “on-the-job injury.” Since employers are waiting to make it a requirement over the next few months for more of a significant number of people to be vaccinated, right now employers might consider simply offering perks for employees for getting vaccinated.

For example, one reward could be not requiring employees who received the vaccine to wear masks or have their temperature taken. Other employers might go as far as offering financial perks to those receiving the vaccine, like cash bonuses.

It is critical that you understand your rights as an employee. American workers everywhere have seen their job status thrown into uncertainty over the coronavirus pandemic. But you have options to maintain some control – the mandates still provide employees with the ability to apply for medical or religious exemptions to the vaccine. Employers are instructed to implement their own policies for requesting exemptions. Although an employee may receive an exemption from being required to receive the vaccine, they will still be required to comply with other standards set in place. To get you started with your exemption, download our religious exemption letter below.

This is a constantly unfolding issue and our firm is dedicated to keeping you up to date anytime there are developments. Additionally, if you have questions about regulations or implications on your children or families, please consult a knowledgeable Fiffik Law Group attorney regarding your options. Our firm can help you understand your rights and obligations as well as plan a response to the new policies.

Religious Exemption Request Letter
Download DOCX • 13KB


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