By Anne Dachel
Dec 7, 2020, CNBC: Yes, your boss can fire you if you refuse to get a Covid vaccine
The country’s first Covid vaccine could be authorized for emergency use as soon as Thursday. If Pfizer and BioNTech get the green light, distribution is set to begin within days.
But as difficult as the research, development and distribution stages have been, some experts argue the hardest part of fighting the virus is actually what comes next: convincing the U.S. population to take the vaccine.
Roughly four in ten Americans say they would “definitely” or “probably” not get a vaccine, according to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center. While this is higher than it was two months ago, to achieve herd immunity, experts say that about 70% of the population needs to be vaccinated or have natural antibodies.
Employers, however, may not be taking “no” for an answer….
“Under the law, an employer can force an employee to get vaccinated, and if they don’t take it, fire them,” said Dunn.
Dorit Reiss, a professor at the University of California Hastings College of Law, said that private businesses have pretty extensive rights. “Requiring a vaccine is a health and safety work rule, and employers can do that,” said Reiss.
Take the health-care system. Dr. Hana El Sahly, who oversees a clinical trial for Moderna’s vaccine candidate, believes hospitals could eventually make Covid inoculation a condition of employment, similar to how the annual influenza vaccine is required of all medical staff.
“We all have to demonstrate that we took our flu shot before we go out and see our patients on the wards,” said El Sahly. “When we are sick, we cannot deliver vital functions to the community.”…
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, if taking the vaccine is a violation of a “sincerely held” religious belief, they, too, would potentially be able to opt out.
How soon could this happen?
When the FDA meets this week, they will decide whether to grant an emergency use authorization, or an EUA, to Pfizer and BioNTech. It may seem like semantics, but an EUA is not the same thing as full approval.
“An emergency use authorization is not a license,” said Reiss. “There’s a legal question as to whether you can mandate an emergency observation. The language in the act is somewhat unclear on that.”
Mandatory vaccination protocols, therefore, may have to wait until the FDA completes the entire approval process for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
What is clear, however, is that if an employer does choose to mandate the Covid vaccine, a company is not liable should an employee develop side effects from a vaccine. Instead, experts say that any claims would be routed through worker’s compensation programs and treated as an on-the-job injury. …
And for those who still refuse? Rather than firing them, Reiss said employers could require that they complete an educational course that delves into trial efficacy data and the experience of participants….
So workers may not have much of a choice if they want to keep a job.