Employees could be required to take COVID-19 vaccination if employers make it mandatory

Updated: Dec. 8, 2020 at 7:00 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - When it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine and the workplace, if your employer requires you to take it, according to legal experts, you have to do so or you could face consequences.

“If an employee decides they don’t want to get the COVID vaccination, if an employer requires it, then they do have the right to terminate them,” said Ray Gustavis, attorney with Chhabra & Gibbs, P.A.

Gustavis said employees would be required to do so because Mississippi is an at-will state.

“Meaning that employees are pretty much subject to whatever requirements the employer places,” she said.

“In reality, I don’t think there’s much of a protection (for employees) under current law as it exists,” said Louis Watson, attorney with Watson & Norris, PLLC.

While state law doesn’t exempt workers from being required to take vaccines, Watson believes there’s a federal law that could come into play.

“One issue would be the Americans with Disabilities Act, and its application to test for vaccines that employers may require such as the drug or alcohol test,” said Watson. “I think the same principles are going to apply to the COVID-19 vaccination.”

Watson said the only other possibility for being exempt is individuals not wanting to take the vaccine due to their religious beliefs.

However, even then, he said it’s up to the employer to determine whether that claim is legitimate.

If an employee chooses to fight their case, Gustavis said she doesn’t believe it’ll hold up in court.

“Our employment law is pretty set in stone, so it’s going to have to be a really particular scenario to where you can even get past those restrictions,” said Watson. “Just given the standard that Mississippi has, given the law that we have in place, it’s pretty much not going to be anything anyone can do as far as employees saying I don’t want to take this vaccination because of X, Y, and Z. It’s going to be up to the individual employers themselves.”

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