In late November and early December, reports began surfacing that approval of a COVID-19 vaccine might be near and that a ‘massive’ network designed to distribute the vaccine was ready to get millions of doses to Americans. While many may be eagerly anticipating a COVID-19 vaccine, others may be viewing it with a more skeptical eye. Some opposed to getting vaccinated may soon find themselves potentially forced to choose between getting an unwanted vaccine or losing their jobs. For certain New Jerseyans, an employer forcing a mandatory vaccine upon them may represent a violation of the Law Against Discrimination and, with the help of a skilled New Jersey employment discrimination attorney, provide the foundation of a winning civil claim in court.
In several circumstances, an employer that establishes a policy requiring all employees to receive a vaccine may be acting legally under the Law Against Discrimination. Recently, the state legislature passed a law that required all home health care workers, nursing home staff and hospital workers to receive the flu vaccine. By analogy and logical extension, any policy by one of these types of employers to require the COVID-19 vaccine would generally be permissible.
Note those words “several” and “generally” in that preceding paragraph. Whether you work at a hospital, a bank or at a construction site, there are certain situations in which your employer is limited in what it can do. Your employer cannot, for example, make you get a vaccine if you can show that receiving that vaccine would be seriously medically harmful to you. If you have a valid medical exemption and your employer refuses to honor it, that refusal could represent the basis of a winning disability discrimination case in New Jersey.