Mandatory & Forced Flu Shot – Is it Discriminatory?

We have received an abundance of telephone calls asking “Can my Employer Force Me to Get the Flu Shot?”  While we sympathize with each and every one of our callers, we are forced to advise them that in most instances, the employer wins.  The next question of course includes the words “Why?, How?” and then of course there are those who use more descriptive words that this G rated site will not restate.

Although there is no Connecticut State Law that mandates employees be vaccinated for the Flu, there is a long history of legislation that supports the employers current stand on the basis that public safety trumps individual rights.  Further, these mandates standing alone, do not qualify as discriminatory acts.  NBC News quoted  Charles Krich from the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities back on December 6, 2012  as saying “this corporate policy does not violate constitutional rights. It also does not qualify as discrimination.  About a hundred years ago, the Supreme Court said the state absolutely has the right to require vaccinations of people to protect the public health,” Krich explained.”   However, there are exceptions where mandated flu shots may be discriminatory.  If you decline the flu shot for health or religious reasons and your request is denied or you face an adverse employment action because of a disability or due to your religious beliefs – such an act by your employer can qualify as disability discrimination or religious discrimination.

To lighten the blow to employees, the best way to view this particular situation is to rationalize that a child cannot go to school without immunizations, therefore why should the parent in the workplace not meet these same standards?  It was only 2 years ago in January of 2011 that mandated all children entering a daycare facility must have received the flu vaccine.  If you are in the healthcare profession, you face further obstacles that include the Center for Disease Control and Prevention 100% supporting mandating the flu shot for all employees working in healthcare.  The American Medical Association and the American Nurses Association also are supporting these mandates.

While Employee Rights, LLC truly understands the frustration of the employee as it relates to this topic, we would be remiss if we didn’t warn the employee that throughout the United States, hundreds of employees have refused the flu shot and faced suspension and in many cases termination from their employment. There are no federal or state cases that have been decided yet to provide a legal opinion on if you are within your Constitutional Rights to decline or refuse a mandated flu shot, so ultimately like the flu, the employee is left sick, weak and sweating it out.