Can Employers Legally Require Workers to Vaccinate their Kids?
February 5, 2015 | By admin
The measles outbreak that began in Disney World has gotten many people angry at the so-called “anti-vaxxer” crowd. Anti-vaxxers are so named because these are people who are against vaccinating their children against dangerous diseases such as measles, mumps and polio.
As an employer, you might be concerned about the possibility of people getting measles in your workplace. This is a possibility if an unvaccinated person, notably a school student, comes in contact with a carrier. In truth, who ever thought that in 2015 that measles would be a topic of discussion? Alas, it’s very much in the news. If you thought a flu epidemic could ground your company, imagine what a measles outbreak could do.
Legally speaking, there is no specific law that says you cannot request your employees to get vaccinated – or to ask them to vaccinate their children. However, making the request and demanding compliance are two different things.
There are two laws that are working against you in this sense. The American with Disabilities Act, or ADA, bars discrimination in the workplace on medical grounds. Many courts may feel this is a form of medical discrimination, which would keep you open to a lawsuit. Similarly, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits religious discrimination, so people who refuse to get vaccinated due to religious reasons may have the right to sue, as well.
Additionally, HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act ) affords people a certain level of privacy when it comes to their healthcare information. Even hospitals cannot mandate their employees to be vaccinated or ask employees to reveal information about their medical care.
However, there are some things that you can do. If your employees have been exposed to measles and have not been vaccinated, you are allowed to send them home on paid leave. You are also allowed to encourage people to get vaccinations and you are also allowed to encourage them to stay home if they are feeling sick.
It’s better to be cautious than sorry when it comes to human resources-related issues. Consult with a skilled and knowledgeable employment lawyer who can advise you on dealing with these types of situations. Contact the law office of Lombardi & Lombardi for sound legal advice.