It’s almost stunning that Coronavirus isn’t behind us yet. Unfortunately it’s still here and going strong, although not as bad in Illinois as places like Texas and Florida. Certainly the most common question we have received of late is can an employer require you to get a Covid vaccine?
The answer, with very limited exceptions, is yes. You can refuse of course, but then they can fire you without recourse. The reason this is true is because generally speaking, employers can set safety measures within their businesses. So just like you can be required to wear a hard hat on a construction site or steel toed boots in certain jobs, your employer can decide that for everyone’s safety, employees need to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
In fact, the state of Illinois could also require vaccinations to get in to restaurants, bars, gyms or really anywhere else. Again, it’s a safety law like wearing a seat belt in a car, not driving drunk, etc.
The reality is that many employers already require other vaccines like tetanus shots and if you went to school in Illinois, you were required to show proof of vaccination against diseases like polio and the measles. Polio would never have been eradicated without those requirements and it’s probably why nobody knows someone under 40 who has polio.
Because Covid can mutate and get more dangerous as it has with the Delta variant, arguments against vaccination have no legal chance in my opinion. Lawsuits have been brought and more will likely come, but I expect that they will continue to get dismissed. You don’t have to get vaccinated if you don’t want to, but just like there are consequences to free speech, there are consequences to choices you make including potentially losing your job.
While I agree with the right of an employer to require vaccination, even if I didn’t it wouldn’t matter. Our job as attorneys isn’t to tell you what we think the law should be, it’s to tell you what it is so you can make an educated decision for yourself about what you want to do.