I can’t believe it. My employer fired me because I wouldn’t get vaccinated.
I suppose you could say they “warned me.” I’d gotten the “You need to show proof of vaccination by September 30th, or we’ll consider that you voluntarily resigned” emails, but I couldn’t believe they’d fire all of us. There’s a lot of us who work here who don’t want to inject this stuff into our bloodstreams. I thought our managers would see reason and cave.
I got a notice Thursday evening stating that unless I submitted proof of vaccination, I would receive my final direct deposit on Friday. Is this legal? Don’t I have employee rights? Can I sue?
As an individual, you have the right to choose whether to get vaccinated. Your employer has the right to require all employees, other than those with legally valid exemptions, be vaccinated.
“These employer mandates are analogous with the employment at will doctrine that many states observe,” notes attorney Charles Krugel. “Valid exemptions relate to medically advised for religion-based reasons for avoiding vaccination. An employer may require medical documentation or proof of a sincerely held believe before granting the exemption.” Further, states Krugel, “Employers need to engage in an interactive discussion with an employee to determine an exemption’s validity. Employers can’t simply make a blanket statement that one medical reason or religious belief is more valid than another without this interactive discussion.”
Employers in many states have fired employees who’ve defied their employer’s vaccination mandates. On September 28th, United Airlines, noting that 96 percent of their employees have been vaccinated, announced it to fire 593 unvaccinated employees.1 Of the remaining four percent, three percent are seeking an exemption, which might result in their being placed on leave without pay.1 Six employees who seek accommodations have sued United, arguing that being placed on an indefinite unpaid leave of absence means their employment has effectively been terminated. These six will remain employed until October 8th. Norvant Health, noting that over 99 percent of the 35,000 employees have been vaccinated, fired 175 unvaccinated employees and suspended another 375, giving them five days to get at least one shot.1 CNN, which had allowed employees to return to the office if vaccinated, fired three employees in September when it learned they hadn’t gotten vaccinated.2
Some employers have offered employees the opportunity to work remotely or undergo weekly testing. Some of these employers intend to conduct weekly onsite COVID tests; others will require employees to be responsible for their own testing. Some employers, such as Delta Air Lines, require unvaccinated employees to pay $200 more monthly for their company health plan.3 Other employers restrict office space and company gyms to vaccinated employees only. MGM Resorts International won’t pay unvaccinated employees for time off to quarantine if they test positive for COVID.3
You ask if this is legal. Employers have the right to set the terms and conditions for employment, unless they discriminate, violate employee rights or public policy.4 Further, federal and many state and local laws support your employer’s decision. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has said U.S. employers can require all employees entering a workplace to be vaccinated if these employers provide accommodations for those remaining unvaccinated due to disability or sincerely held religious beliefs. Employers can fire employees who don’t comply with an employer’s policies, including the workplace safety protocols.
You asked if you can sue. Any fired employee can sue, but your lawsuit will likely fail. More than one hundred Houston Methodist employees sued challenging their employer’s vaccination mandate. A U.S. District judge dismissed the lawsuit, ruling that the employee plaintiffs could choose to refuse vaccination and work elsewhere.
Finally, you although you expected your employer to cave to your anti-vaccination decision, your employer has mandated vaccination to maintain a reasonably safe work environment, minimize their business risks and manage their legal liability. You now have to answer the question—do you want to keep your job if it means getting vaccinated or do you need to find an employer more accepting of unvaccinated employees.
1 Firing Unvaccinated Workers Becomes More Common (shrm.org)
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2 thoughts on “Fired Because I Won’t Get Vaccinated”
Yes, you can be fired; yes, it’s legal! Go get vaccinated! Really.
I read the first sentence of the Question – “I can’t believe it. My employer fired me because I wouldn’t get vaccinated.” – and blinked. I wonder if it’s a Millennial thing? Or just overflow and societal contamination from the latest (“It’s all about ME”) generation that’s spreading? Or, maybe the writer missed so much school they didn’t learn to read and comprehend. But the entire situation and position taken by this individual is somewhere south of understandable to me. Either way…it makes no sense to this Baby Boomer.
And, before I go further down this trail, there are many who might think ‘oh, just another ‘sheeple who’s had plenty of kool-aid to drink and just rolls over to the will of the company’ – NOT! I just learned, as a kid, that there are CIVIL RIGHTS AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITIES that come with being a member of a society; and I learned them by seeing and doing. I lived during the time when Polio, Measles, Mumps and Whooping Cough were not uncommon, but were eradicated by a population-wide vaccination policy and program. And these many years later, still no one has to suffer from them.
But nowadays, it seems that too many people see any rules or changes as challenges; just something to figure a way around or avoid or ignore or fight. During these now times when everybody comes home with a trophy for just showing up (and sometimes even that’s not the lowest benchmark), and ‘nobody gets left behind’ it seems the quality of achievement has become something reserved for very few who really understand that quality, and many seem to spend their time trying only to get as much as possible for as little as possible. All the while, complaining about having to do their part to achieve the objective if they’re asked.
I, and not surprisingly most of my friends and those I come into regular contact with, feel that if you are not doing YOUR part toward an end, you have little investment in it and should not gain much reward from it. The equation ‘project identification + participation + completion = just due reward’ comes to mind. Because any project requires identifying it, working on it, then completing it to achieve the final result. You can’t stand on the peak until all of the steps below it are taken.
It is my opinion that the Anti-vaxxer’s can protest all they want – and avoid being vaccinated as long as they want – as long as they remain remote from the rest of the population.
As for those with medical reasons to not be vaccinated, I know many medical problems are not self-induced or cannot be controlled. “Not being able to ‘see yourself’ being vaxxed” is not a true vision problem; it’s an attitude problem. Those who qualify must use whatever prophylactics are necessary to reduce the possibility of contracting the virus and/or infecting others.
As for those with ‘seriously held religious beliefs’ – they’re special. Not unlike the now gender diverse world, RELIGION (religious belief) IS A CHOICE. If a Catholic can decide tomorrow to change to becoming a Baptist (or atheist), and a Muslim could decide tomorrow to convert to Judaism – and in our country, where your “Freedom of Religion” is a Right and Choice – just as vaxxing or not-vaxxing is a CHOICE – they should NOT be exempted from being a part of the societal contribution to ridding our world of this heinous virus. They could use that ‘choice’ to justify no vaxxing today, then change religions tomorrow. They have that Right, but it would be an abridgment of the true Rights.
Let’s face it. In spite of the ludicrous attitudes and statements that the virus does not exist, or is not a threat, or OMG…it goes on, more people are dying of it daily. And ANYONE not doing everything they can to prevent further spread of this virus is guilty of perpetrating the sickness that is causing those deaths.
Every member of our society should have one of two choices: 1) get vaccinated and do whatever else you can to help limit and end the spread of this virus, or; 2) sequester yourself (with others of your ilk if you and they wish) and hope you survive if/when you get it. And for them, since you have not and are not doing your part to rid the world of this virus – you do not deserve any treatment if you find yourself infected with it. THAT IS YOUR CHOICE! Good Luck!