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Legal Concerns Regarding Mandatory Flu Vaccination Programs

Recently, many health care employers and other large corporations have implemented programs requiring their employees to get a flu vaccination. Some legal experts have suggested that these mandates may be problematic for employers.  Specifically, employers may face religious based objections under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, or disability based objections under the Americans with Disabilities Act.  According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, it has filed lawsuits in recent years against employers under Title VII where employees were fired for objecting to a vaccination for sincere religious beliefs.  The EEOC has also stated that a company would likely violate the ADA, if it were to take adverse action against an employee who refused to get a flu vaccination for a disability related reason, such as an allergic reaction to the vaccine.

So, how can health care providers and large corporations whose employees routinely interact with the general public enforce a mandatory flu vaccination program while simultaneously following state and federal guidelines? At a minimum, employers should implement a written policy detailing the company’s mandatory flu shot program.  The policy should clearly state the business purpose for the program, provide information concerning the flu vaccine in an effort to alleviate concerns regarding the vaccine, and finally, inform employees of the appropriate channels to object to the program while assuring employees that their concerns will be promptly and appropriately addressed.

If your company is thinking about implementing a mandatory flu vaccination program, and you have questions about implementation, please let us know.

KMK Legal Alerts and Blog Posts are intended to bring attention to developments in the law and are not intended as legal advice for any particular client or any particular situation. Please consult with counsel of your choice regarding any specific questions you may have.

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