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Can your employer require you to get a COVID-19 vaccination?

covid vaccine
Posted at 9:19 PM, Jul 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-26 23:22:01-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — With more people back to work now and the delta variant spreading, can your employer require that you get a COVID-19 vaccine?

NewsChannel 5 Legal Analyst Nick Leonardo says because this issue is so new on this scale, the law isn't entirely clear.

In large part, Leonardo says, private companies can do what they want, including requiring COVID-19 vaccines for their employees, even if they decided not to require them before.

Workplaces that will start requiring vaccines for employees know not everyone will agree with the decision. But Leonardo says that objection alone isn't enough to keep an employer from requiring you to get a vaccine.

However, if an employee has a specific medical reason or religious reason for not getting the vaccine - that is constitutionally protected, and an employer cannot require that.

"You've got to be very, very careful because if someone has an explanation of why they're not getting that, and its a constitutionally protected thing, you could potentially set yourself up for a lawsuit if you try to fire that person for not getting the vaccine," Leonardo said.

Some employers are focusing not on the stick, but the carrot when encouraging employees to get vaccinated, offering incentives like additional paid time off for employees who do.