Gephardt: Yes, Your Boss Can Fire You For Not Getting A COVID Vaccine – But There Are Exceptions

Dec 8, 2020, 6:40 PM | Updated: 9:37 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – With the COVID-19 vaccine likely to receive emergency-use authorization by the FDA this week, one KSL viewer asked: can my boss force me to take it?

KSL’s Matt Gephardt took that question to attorney Lisa Petersen, who specializes in labor law, and her answer: “So generally, yes, with some exceptions.”

Those exceptions include some sort of disability or legitimate medical reason that taking the vaccine could be harmful. Also, a firmly held religious belief that forbids it.

KSL’s Matt Gephardt talks with attorney Lisa Petersen, who specializes in labor law. (KSL-TV)

An employer does not have the legal power to stick a needle into the arm of an employee, Petersen said. But the power they do have is to fire you for disobeying a company policy.

As to how an employer can know whether you actually got the vaccine, Peterson said it is a matter of paperwork.

“It’s the same as if you were taking a sick day off work and you need to get a doctor’s note, right?” she said.

Outside of health care workers, most employers don’t require vaccinations, Petersen explained. Though she expects you’ll see it become a requirement in other industries in the coming months — especially in businesses where an outbreak could be devastating to the bottom line: restaurants, gyms or department stores.

“Industries where there’s almost … an entire day is spent or the entire work shift is spent with direct contact with the public,” she added.

Now, of course, good bosses will not want to lose good workers, so Petersen said if there are issues — don’t start by making it a legal thing right away.

Talk about it.

Bosses, listen to your employees’ concerns. Workers, try to understand where your boss is coming from. The best solution may be a compromise.

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Gephardt: Yes, Your Boss Can Fire You For Not Getting A COVID Vaccine – But There Are Exceptions