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COVID-19 vaccination requirements in the workplace

Published: Dec. 15, 2020 at 6:09 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - As the coronavirus vaccine makes its way to the Stateline, local employment law attorneys discuss how its arrival could make waves in the workplace.

With people itching to get back to life without masks, business owners are now weighing the need to make the COVID-19 vaccine a requirement before opening their doors to workers. Local employment law attorneys say it’s a gray area.

Can my employer make me take the vaccine and can I be fired if I don’t?

The law says they can. Illinois is considered an at-will state, meaning that unless they are working under a contract, an employer has the right to let an employee go for any reason.

If a supervisor believes the safety of the workplace is compromised because someone refuses to get vaccinated, they can let them go.

Are there any exceptions?

Yes, someone with a disability or someone who can’t be immunized due to a pre-existing condition or allergy can’t be forced to take it or be punished for not doing so.

Is there a difference in consequences for public versus private employers?

It depends. While public employees have constitutional protections, like the 14th Amendment that gives workers the chance to fight back against an unjust firing, at-will private employees can’t be forced to do anything that may violate their civil rights.

In a recent interview, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar says the government hopes to make the covid-19 vaccine available for the general public as early as next spring.

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