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Heartland law professor explains legality of mandating vaccines in the workplace

Updated: May. 19, 2021 at 5:49 PM CDT
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - As workers go back to their jobs, employers big and small consider making moves to keep them safe from the coronavirus.

According to an SIU law professor, employers can require you to get the vaccine, but it does come with a couple exceptions.

”Employers generally have the right to run their business as they see fit,” SIU law professor Cheryl Anderson said.

Anderson said an employer can require workers to get a COVID-19 vaccine for one simple reason, because there’s no law that prohibits it.

Anderson said your boss does have to make an effort to accommodate you in certain circumstances.

“If you’re a person with a disability that prevents you from taking the vaccine, or if you’re a person with a sincerely held religious belief that prevents you from getting vaccines in general,” she said.

Anderson said in those cases, the employer needs to find a way to allow you to do your job without putting others at risk.

“I generally try to avoid telling employers it’s just this or that- either they have the vaccine or you can fire them. There’s usually a gray area in there where with some employees at least you need to engage in an interactive process,” she said.

Some people have mixed thoughts about employers having that much control.

“I really don’t think an employer should require that they get that, being its their own body, they should be able to do as they please with their own body,” Josh Neal said.

“I don’t oppose to it; I mean I think everyone should get it so we can go back to living normal,” Nicole Lane said.

“I can absolutely see why some places would do that- nursing homes, hospitals, schools, things of that nature and I can also see why some people would be frustrated by it,” Adam Nelson said.

“If it’s a religious consideration or a health concern I think we should respect those people, but at the same time I do think people should really consider it as far as protecting others not just their inside bubble,” Kim Dorey said.

As the debate continues, Anderson said you probably won’t see a lot of businesses taking such a hard line on the vaccine.

“A lot of companies are feeling their way through this and trying to figure out what’s best cause there’s a lot of pros and cons- even if the law says you can do something, practically you may not want to,” she said.

Delta Airlines and a Houston Hospital are enforcing vaccine requirements.

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