States mandating flu vaccine

In 2005, the Washington State Nurses Association won a federal court case against a hospital's mandatory flu shots for nurses. One weakness in the hospital's position was the lack of public policy favoring mandatory flu shots. WILL FORCED EMPLOYEE FLU SHOTS AFFECT EMPLOYEE MORALE?

The court held that the hospital's unilateral imposition of flu shots violated the nurse's union's collective bargaining agreement, which required the hospital to bargain collectively with the union over all terms and conditions of employment. However, since the alleged 2009-2010 pandemic (which was not a real pandemic at all), hospitals around the country have been implementing seasonal and swine flu vaccine mandates for employees that risks changing policy in a way that could affect this argument in future cases. As many as 1/2 of healthcare workers say they don't want flu vaccines.

Some considerations are presented below (specific sections linked above). A few have medical exemptions; a couple have religious and one has religious and philosophical exemptions. Title VII of the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires qualifying employers (more than 15 employees, public or private) to reasonably accommodate their employees' religious beliefs.

However, Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act makes it unlawful for employers "controlling apprenticeship or other training or retraining" to discriminate against individuals based on religion and other factors, so students in healthcare curriculums have a federal right to refuse vaccines in their clinical work, for religious reasons, and if denied that right, may file an EEOC complaint alleging discrimination.And yes, there have been instances in which employees have left hospitals or been fired outright for refusal.For instance, in early 2012 a hospital in Indiana fired eight workers, including three popular veteran nurses, because they declined to be vaccinated.Bottom line, it can be very difficult to fix a flawed religious exemption statement after it has already been submitted.The federal government and about a dozen states have a Religious Freedom Restoration Act or equivalent legislation that requires government to use the least restrictive means to achieve a compelling state interest when imposing on the free exercise of religious beliefs.

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