My Employer Is Requiring Me to Get a COVID-19 Vaccine to Return to Work But I Don’t Want One

My Employer Is Requiring Me to Get a COVID-19 Vaccine to Return to Work But I Don’t Want One

Michelle Patrick
Michelle Patrick
 | 
The country has started to re-open. COVID-19 vaccines are available for adults in all age groups and have become relatively easy to get. Employers are starting to require employees to physically return to the workplace. Some employers, especially those in which employees deal directly with the public, are requiring employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine before returning to work. 

What happens if you don’t want to get the COVID-19 vaccine but your employer will no longer allow you to work from home? Can your employer force you to get it? Can you legally stay home and work from home if you don’t want to get the COVID-19 vaccine? 

Can My Employer Require Me to Get a COVID-19 Vaccine?

Yes, except under certain circumstances. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency tasked with enforcing federal laws, has said that employers can require employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine without running afoul of any federal laws unless the employee is claiming an exemption. Exemptions include:
  • Certain religious beliefs or doctrines may prevent you from getting vaccines. 
  • Medical exemptions may include those who are at risk of suffering a severe allergic reaction to the shot, or those who are disabled and request a reasonable accommodation (discussed in more detail below). A medical exemption may also apply to pregnant women.
A number of states have introduced legislation to attempt to prevent at least some employers from requiring their employees to get COVID-19 vaccines. Currently Arkansas makes it illegal for state entities to require its employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Can I Legally Continue Working from Home?

There is no legal right to work from home. However, there are a few circumstances in which you might be permitted to continue to work from home. 

Under the Families First Coronavirus Act (FFCRA), which was passed at the height of the pandemic, employees were permitted to work from home for a variety of reasons including their own COVID-19 related conditions and caring for others because of COVID-19, including children whose schools were closed. The FFCRA, and therefore it’s protections, expired in December of 2020. Therefore there is no federal law that allows you to stay home for COVID-19 reasons. Some states or municipalities may have chosen to extend some of the protections in the FFCRA so it is important that you find out what laws or ordinances apply in your specific location. 

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”,) if you are disabled you may qualify for a reasonable accommodation that allows you to do your job while managing your disability. You will need to notify your employer that you are disabled, you will need to provide supporting information from your doctor, and you can then request working from home as a reasonable accommodation. If working from home presents a hardship for the employer, then your request may be denied and you will have to return to the office with other reasonable accommodations in place such as wearing a mask and social distancing. 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) required that employers provide its employees with a safe workplace; free from immediate or imminent danger.  Therefore, if an employer believes that COVID-19 poses an immediate or imminent risk to its employees, that employer can require that all employers get the COVID-19 vaccine in an attempt to eliminate that risk. 

The law and guidance around these questions continues to evolve and may vary depending on where you live. You should consult with an attorney about your rights before refusing a COVID-19 vaccine and before refusing to return to work.


This article is intended to convey generally useful information only and does not constitute legal advice. Any opinions expressed are solely those of the author, not LawChamps. 
 
Michelle Patrick

Find My Lawyer

Start by selecting your legal need:
Business / Employment

Business / Employment

Family / Personal / Injury / Immigration

Family / Personal / Injury / Immigration

Criminal Defense / Civil Rights

Criminal Defense / Civil Rights

Real Estate / Housing

Real Estate / Housing

Estate Planning / Power of Attorney

Estate Planning / Power of Attorney

Review & Rating Images LawChamps
LawChamps Reviews

"I was able to find just the right lawyer for my case. It was easy to use."

Lucy Coutinho

Client

Review & Rating Images LawChamps
LawChamps Reviews

"Very easy for me to get connected with an experienced attorney."

Robert Knox Jr

Client

Review & Rating Images LawChamps
LawChamps Reviews

"It was super easy. It was super fast and I got connected pretty quickly."

Lenasia Smalls

Client

Client Testimonial - Triso Valls
LawChamps Reviews

"It’s easy to register and match with a lawyer according to your legal [need]."

Triso Valls

Client

Ready To Get Started?

Find Your Lawyer NowLawChamps Arrow Icon

Related Posts

What Are Your Legal Responsibilities When it Comes to P...

Scott Dylan Westerlund | 14 June, 2021

A whopping 8 out of 10 employees say that the coronavirus pandemic will likely force companies to be more responsible. One reason why is because those companies had to ma...

Read More Arrow Icon

How to Handle Back-to-Work Without Back-to-School

Scott Dylan Westerlund | 08 June, 2021

Before the pandemic hit, only about 17% of Americans were working from home. Once Covid-19 came on the scene, everything changed. That statistic shot up to a whopping 44%...

Read More Arrow Icon

Can My Boss Make Me Get a COVID-19 Vaccine?

Michelle Patrick | 31 March, 2021

As COVID-19 vaccines become more readily available you may be wondering if your employer can force you to get a COVID-19 vaccine in order to return to work.   ...

Read More Arrow Icon

Related Posts

Hire One, Help Another

LawChamps donates a portion of our revenue, investing it back into funding justice reform organizations and subsidizing the legal fees for those who cannot afford them.
Learn More