Joel Dillard

Representing Mississippi Workers



Can I really get fired for not getting the COVID-19 vaccine?

Today's discussion is important. It is also, fortunately, pretty straightforward.

Can my employer mandate a vaccine?

Yes.

Can they fire me for not getting a vaccine?

Yes.

What if I don't think the vaccine is safe?

Doesn't matter. You are entitled to your opinion, but not your job. Your employer is entitled to make a reasonable determination of what it deems necessary to make the workplace safe.

What if I have a religious objection to the vaccine?

Doesn't matter. The Hardison standard makes it difficult to get a religious accommodation (as we have written about before) and although the Supreme Court will probably overturn Hardison soon, even that won't save you here because there is a direct threat posed by COVID, as discussed below. Also, your religious objection is probably not bona fide under the law.

What if I have a medical condition that makes the vaccine unsafe for me?

Doesn't matter. First, you probably will have difficulty getting a doctor who will provide a concrete and well-supported professional opinion that the vaccine is unsafe for you in particular.

Even if you could - even if the vaccine really is unsafe for you and you can prove it - you probably can still get fired right now because COVID-19 is a direct threat. The employer is not required to give you an exemption if it causes a threat of harm to yourself or others. I think unvaccinated COVID exposure - right now - easily meets that test. If, in order to do your work, you have to go to a place where there are other people - an office, school, hospital, store, construction site, etc - and you cannot do the work from home, there is a direct threat unless you get vaccinated.

Employers are not required to expose their employees, their business, and the public to an unvaccinated coworker just because the coworker wants some special protection.

Is this absolutely iron-clad and legally certain?

No. This is a still-evolving area, and this analysis could be wrong. But I think the courts will be overwhelmingly hostile to vaccine exemptions. Judges have had to remain abreast of the developments because they are employers and public administrators too. Somebody may be willing to take these cases, but all I can say is good luck with that!

My boss thinks he knows it all,
He's a certified S.O.B
No matter how hard I try
He never lets up on me
A dose of his own medicine
Sure would serve him well
When I walk in tomorrow morning
And tell him he can go to hell . . .
Good luck with that
As a matter of fact
I've been down that road before
And I ain't going back
Don't get mad
I just had to speak my mind
Don't waste your time
Or forget your hat
Good luck with that

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