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Can my employer require me to get a vaccine?

With vaccinations in the news, some employees and employers may be considering whether these types of procedures are important for workplace safety and security. For some, employers may seek to ensure those that work on premises have received certain vaccinations in order to properly protect both the workers and those they may work with.

Can employers force their employees to get vaccinated?

The answer is generally, yes. While some people may fear such a requirement as a violation of personal freedom, the law does not guarantee one a specific job. And, employers are largely able to set the conditions for employment. In fact, for potential liability reasons, employers may justify the requirement as maintaining a safe and healthy work environment, which is required by law.

The key takeaway is that if the employer can show that the vaccination is job-related or a business necessity, the employer can mandate a vaccine. And, as a result, if an employee refuses to take the vaccine, that employee can likely be legally terminated.

Has anyone challenged this before in court?

Yes – a recent 2018 case on mandatory vaccinations for rubella, measles and mumps is directly on point. In that case, a federal appeals court dismissed a lawsuit from an employee who argued that the Americans with Disabilities Act allowed them to opt out of the employer’s mandatory vaccine requirement because the employee “could” have an allergic reaction to the vaccine. The court reasoned that the hypothetical injury was outweighed by the safety concern for the employee’s clients.

What if one needs help or has additional questions?

Employment law questions are complicated. Chicago area residents may have a valid defense, like a religious objection, disability, and more. However, before making a decision that could cost one their job, they should consult an attorney first. The attorney can go over the law and the employee’s options to ensure that the employee is making the best decision for their circumstances.