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Here’s why your job could require you to get vaccinated

Published: Jul. 27, 2021 at 6:12 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Louisiana is what’s called an “at-will state” and because of that, there is no law getting in the way of an employer from requiring its workers to be vaccinated.

Some say that a mandate goes against a person’s individual liberties but others say it’s within the rights of the employer.

With less than 40% of the state of Louisiana fully vaccinated, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs is taking more aggressive action by mandating all VA healthcare workers get their COVID shots.

“So, these are things that are commonly done in certain settings at high risk for high transmissibility and it’s nothing new if the institution decides to do that,” said US Sen. Bill Cassidy.

Cassidy went on to say aside from it not being a new concept for institutions to mandate vaccines, there are already institutions that are actively doing that.

“We already have vaccine mandates. A child cannot start school unless the child is vaccinated for Hepatitis B, Measles, DPT, and other things. And I’m pretty sure in Louisiana that a teacher cannot teach unless she has been vaccinated for Hepatitis B and probably Measles, etc,” explained Cassidy.

EXPLAINER: Employers have legal right to mandate COVID shots

But the question people want to be answered is whether a vaccine under Emergency Use Authorization can be mandated before it’s been fully approved by the FDA.

Baton Rouge attorney Jill Craft was the person to talk to in order to find out.

“I don’t think that there’s really a difference between the two,” said Craft.

According to her, the relevance in all of this lies around the two exemptions from getting the vaccine should it be mandated. (1) If you are someone with a serious underlying medical condition where your doctor says you are at high risk for taking the vaccine or (2) if you can prove you have a firmly held religious objection to receiving a vaccine.

“And guess what, your response is, ‘I’m not gonna work here anymore.’ But that’s kind of the way it plays and that’s particularly important in a state like Louisiana that’s an at-will employment state,” explained Craft.

And in an at-will state, an employer can condition employment around a variety of things, with vaccinations being one of them.

“So, yes, by and large, employers, especially private employers, can require people to take health measures especially when they are servicing the public,” concluded Craft.

She also said she thinks there are likely going to be legal challenges, particularly with federal courts facing them head-on, perhaps sooner than we think.

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