Thursday, January 3, 2013

Flu Shots: Legal Termination

Can a company terminate employees that refuse to have their flu shots?  This is a contemporary and somewhat controversial issue that I will be discussing in my post today.  As usual, I want to hear what you have to say.  Feel free to give your own comments or opinions below.

Flu Shots:  Legal Termination

The subject of whether a company has the right to terminate their employees over a flu shot came to light recently, as a group of 8 workers in Indiana were terminated.  The employees, out of IU Health Goshen Hospital, refused to get the shots on the basis of their religious beliefs and medical allergies.  Hospital policy had recently changed to require all employees to have their shots for the protection of the public they serve.  The employees had filed for exemptions, which were rejected.  Per hospital spokeswoman Melanie McDonald, “"The EEOC's guidelines specify that just because there are beliefs that are strongly held does not mean that they are protected by a religious blanket, so social, political and economic philosophies and personal preferences, those are not religious beliefs”.

The terminations may be legal.  The Joint Commission, which certifies health care organizations, has updated their requirements.  For hospitals to retain their certification, they are required to have a program in place to educate staff about the influenza virus and about the vaccine itself.  Hospitals must have a strategy in place to meet a 90% flu vaccination by 20/20.  Several states also have recently added laws requiring all health care workers have flu shots.  In response to these requirements and laws, hospitals have felt pressured to update their hiring and retention standards to include this flu shot requirement.  As laws are changing, some health care employers are legally obligated to make these terminations.  Many workers and unions are fighting these organizations in court.  In Washington state, for example, hospitals are now required to include mandatory flu shots as part of their collective bargaining agreements.

What do you think?  You may want to review you own state laws and company policies.    

And remember all of you Human Resources professionals:  Be Human... Be a Resource...  Be a Resource for Humans.



Disclaimer:  The views expressed in this post are by the author Trevor Stasik, and do not necessarily reflect the views of any employer or any other organization. Please note, this information is based on my understanding and is only to be used for informational and educational purposes.  Do not take what I am writing as advice.  Seek your own legal counsel and/or see a tax accountant before making business or personal decisions.  The author of this post makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

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