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VERIFY: Can your employer mandate you get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Employers are now faced with the question of whether to make getting the vaccine mandatory. What are your rights as an employee?

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Now that the general population in Ohio is getting closer to being able to get the COVID-19 vaccine, employers are faced with questions about vaccination guidance in their workplace.

That includes whether to make the vaccine mandatory.

Isaac Wiles Law Practice labor and Employment associate attorney Benjamin Humphrey says the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is the federal government agency in charge of administering anti-discrimination laws. Those laws impact if employers can mandate you to get a vaccine.

"They came out with brand new guidance from last year that addresses this very topic. That advice in that guidance is that employers can mandate that their employees receive the vaccine as long as there are exceptions for folks with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act and for religious reasons under Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for reasons they can't receive those vaccines," Humphrey explains.

So the answer is yes, your employer can mandate you to get a vaccine.

Another popular question: "Does it matter what career field you're in?"

Humphrey says no.

Another common question is "Can you be terminated for not getting the vaccine if your employer mandates it?"

The answer to that, depends on which state you live in.

"Ohio is an at-will state, they can't force you to get it but if you absolutely refuse and it's not for one of those exceptions, you could be terminated," he says.

He also says employers do have to be careful about what questions they ask you.

"When an employer mandates an employee gets a vaccine, they can ask for proof that the employee was vaccinated however they need to be careful not asking additional questions, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, these would be questions that could elicit information about someone with a disability," Humphrey explains.

And as we push through the vaccination process, Humphrey says laws and guidelines could change.

So pay close attention to the Governor, CDC and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

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