Can My Employer Require Me to Get the COVID-19 Vaccine?
by Edgar Galvan
The year 2020 brought upon many new challenges in people’s lives as the entire world was thrust into a pandemic. Even as we can view the end of the pandemic life on the horizon, there are still lingering questions on what life will be like after pandemic life is officially behind us.
One question that continues to linger is that of employees as they may continue to wonder if workplace requirements will change with the times: Can your employer require you to get the COVID-19 Vaccine?
Stats about COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy Among Healthcare Workers
In a study conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) with about 1,965 respondents, the results were listed as the following:
- 1,436 (73.1%) were in favor of the COVID-19 vaccine
- 453 (23.1%) were hesitant of the COVID-19 vaccine
- 76 (3.9%) were against the COVID-19 vaccine
These numbers show that there is still hesitation, even if a large majority of the respondents are in favor of the COVID-19 vaccine.
NCBI came to the conclusion that most COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among health care workers is pretty similar across the board, even going as far as to point out that the ease of access to media communication on the side effects related to the vaccine could be the most significant cause for the hesitancy.
Houston Methodist Court Case
In May of 2021, 117 employees went through with a lawsuit against Houston Methodist as the COVID-19 vaccine became required for employees at the hospital.
In an article by Marlene Lenthang titled, “117 Employees Sue Houston Methodist Hospital for Requiring COVID-19 Vaccine”, it is stated that up until the lawsuit, just about 99% of the hospital’s employees, which stands at around 26,000, have been vaccinated.
The employees were given a deadline of June 7 to get vaccinated and were told that they would run the risk of suspension or even termination if they did not receive their vaccinations.
Lenthang states that the lawsuit alleged the hospital was illegally requiring the employees to “be injected with an experimental vaccine as a condition of employment,” even pointing out that the lawsuit references the Nuremberg Code, a code of medical ethics which is said to ban forced medical experiments and pushes for employee consent.
The Hospital CEO has taken a stern stance on this issue, with the attorney taking on the case on behalf of the hospital employees has taken the view that the hospital is simply doing this for profit.
As a result, the federal judge assigned to the case has since tossed the lawsuit out. In an article titled, “Federal Judge Dismisses Lawsuit from Texas Hospital Employees Over COVID Vaccine Requirement” by Jordan Freiman of CBS News, it is stated that Judge Lynn N. Hughes threw the case out on the basis that claims that the vaccine were dangerous from those in the lawsuit were simply “false, and it is also irrelevant”.
When it comes to where you stand on the issue, it is important to understand that there must be caution when deciding to choose NOT to get vaccinated.
This is not a case of simply telling you that if your employer requires it, to go through with it, but instead that if you do not agree with the requirement, do not just refuse… depending on the employer, you may run into trouble as it may be required for specific jobs and specific employers.
Stephanie Ebbs’ article, “What to Know if Your Employer Requires Vaccinations: Federal Legal Protections,” breaks down what the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission says regarding the COVID-19 vaccine and employers.
Ebbs remarks that the EOEC has made it legal for employers to require the COVID-19 vaccine as they would be promoting a safe working environment for all employees (as long as there are “alternative arrangements” made for employees that would be unable to receive the vaccine due to medical or religious reasons).
At the end of the day, employers have the right to promote a safe working environment. If that specific employer feels that requiring a COVID-19 vaccination would help ensure that the working environment is safe, they are legally allowed to do so.
This is why it is very important to err on the side of caution when thinking about refusing to receive a COVID-19 vaccination, as it seems you would be fighting an uphill battle.