Huntsville, Ala. – Several recent polls show a majority of Americans welcome the news that COVID-19 vaccines are set to roll out soon, but there are some who are opposed to taking it.
News 19 spoke with Mark McDaniel, an attorney in Huntsville, who believes it’s likely that employers in Alabama will require their employees to be vaccinated, and that refusing to do so could get you fired. McDaniel said that’s because Alabama is an “at will” state, where employees can be fired for essentially any reason. Only a few potential exceptions to the law exist, including health issues or religious grounds.
McDaniel added that employers, particularly those with workers on the front lines, like hospitals, now also have a greater responsibility to do everything they can to ensure staff and patients aren’t infected by the virus in the workplace. The attorney said that allowing a worker to remain employed, without getting vaccinated, would likely be considered negligence on the part of a hospital, and added that the same legal principle applies to many other industries.
“A grocery store, lets say. The person says I’m not going to take the test. Ok well then if there’s nothing else you can do around here, but be around people, then you’re fired,” said McDaniel.
The attorney said employees can try to make a case against taking the vaccine for health or religious reasons, but they still likely won’t have much luck if their job requires them to interact with the public or other staff.
“You go in front of that jury, and you say yes I fired the person, yes they told me they had religious reasons, but I couldn’t have this person serving people. How much money is a jury going to give that person?” said McDaniel.
McDaniel said it’s likely that the only people who may be able to keep their jobs without getting vaccinated are those who are able to work completely remotely. And, he added, that those planning on making that request to their employer should do so right away.
“Talk to your employer right now, if you’re not going to take this vaccine, talk to that employer, even if it’s not a health reason or religious reason. Talk to that employer, try to make some accommodation,” said McDaniel.
McDaniel said he doubts that any requirement to get a COVID-19 vaccine will come down from either the state or federal level.
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