Can hospitals require employees get vaccinated? Legal experts weigh in

Published: Aug. 5, 2021 at 5:43 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - Hospitals do have solid legal ground to stand on when it comes to requiring employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine, according to legal experts.

On Thursday, it was announced some of the largest healthcare systems in the Tri-State will require vaccinations for their employees.

But can hospitals require this?

The short answer, according to an attorney who specializes in employment law, is yes.

In Ohio and Kentucky, there is no law blocking an employer from making vaccines a requirement for employees.

Attorney George Reul says some exemptions under the Americans With Disabilities Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act could challenge the vaccine requirement.

“In circumstances where employees have a medical condition or a disability, it might make it problematic for them to get the vaccine,” Reul explained. “The hospitals, the employers that want to mandate the vaccine, they have a duty to try to provide reasonable accommodations.”

If an employee refuses to get vaccinated and is subsequently fired, Reul says going to court would not do much.

Legal experts point to a case in Houston last month where more than 150 health care workers who did not comply with a vaccine mandate were either fired or resigned.

The employees sued but a federal judge ruled in favor of the hospitals.

“That federal judge did not mince words at all,” stated FOX19 NOW Legal Expert Mike Allen. “He not only dismissed the case, he dismissed it with some pretty strong language.”

Reul says the issue would have to be taken up in state legislatures and a law would have to be passed to define the guidelines on what employers are allowed to require of their employees.

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