Can your employer require you to get a COVID vaccine?
As we inch closer to having a COVID vaccine available to the public, the question of if it can be mandated looms—particularly when it comes to your job.
Loyola Law Professor Dane Ciolino says employers have the right to require all employees to get the shot.
“By in large, most people are at-will employees in Louisiana and the request, in light of all the science is a reasonable one, so most employees are either going to have to do it or suffer the consequences,” Ciolino said.
Attorney Jill Craft disagrees that employers should be required to mandate it.
“Can an employer require it? Yes. Should an employer require? Probably not, because of the significant legal hurdles you can have,” she said.
Since Louisiana is an “employment at will” state, which means you can fire someone for basically no reason, Craft says employers can fire employees for not getting the vaccine, but there are some major exceptions.
“Let’s say I require my employee to have the COVID vaccine. One of my employees says ‘I’m not having the COVID vaccine, I am religiously and conscientiously opposed to vaccinations’. If I fire that person, the law could consider my termination of that employee in violation of his or her rights under title seven, i.e. religious freedom.”
The same thing applies to the Americans with Disabilities Act—if you have a medical history that would be impacted negatively by the vaccine.
However, these rights don’t cover people who are opposed to the vaccine for political reasons.
“But in the world of, well I’m not going to take a vaccine because I don’t think it doesn’t exist, no you’re not going to be protected. Ignorance is not something that’s protected necessarily.”
The vaccine likely won’t be widely available to everyone until March or April of next year.
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