The recent measles outbreak has many workers concerned – both whether they are at risk for contracting the disease and alternatively, whether they may be forced by their employer to get a vaccine. The issue has sparked a debate among many workers – those concerned about the dangers of diseases, and those who believe that vaccinations cause other deleterious effects or may be contrary to their religious beliefs.
Whether it is legal for employers to mandate vaccinations is a complex issue. For example, pursuant to federal law such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers may not discriminate against workers for a variety of reasons, including religious beliefs. Thus, employers may be required to accommodate workers who have legitimate religious grounds for opposing vaccinations. However, certain job types (especially ones in health care settings) may require vaccinations. The vaccination requirement for these types of jobs may be justified as a “business necessity” and override the need to accommodate those following anti-vaccination protocols based on religious arguments. Additionally, requiring vaccinations and proof of such may lead to legal issues concerning the disclosure of personal health care information. Thus, rather than mandating vaccinations, it may be in an employer’s best interest to provide education regarding the benefits of vaccinations, along with offering voluntary vaccinations as a firm benefit or part of a firm wellness program.
For more information, or if you have questions or concerns about a firm policy or program, please contact the dedicated Atlanta employment discrimination lawyers at Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP for an immediate case evaluation.