Can Pennsylvanians get fired for not getting the COVID-19 vaccine?

Pennsylvania News

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The short answer is ‘yes,’ it is possible to get fired for refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine if it is being mandated by your employer.

“We have been getting a lot of calls about COVID,” said Larry Weisberg, attorney, Weisberg Cummings.

Weisberg practices employment law and says he has recently recieved a number of calls about the COVID-19 vaccine and whether employers can require their workers to get the shot.

“There’s no general law that prohibits an employer from requiring an employee to get a COVID vaccine and there’s no general law that prohibits an employer from firing someone if they don’t get a COVID vaccine,” Weisberg.

As the law stands right now, The PA human Relations Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act do provide some protection for people with religious beliefs or disabilities that would interfere with them getting the vaccine.

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“If a person in their job can be reasonably accommodated, for instance, if they don’t get the vaccine they would wear a mask so that they would not create a hazard to others or a direct threat to safety or well-being of others, then that might be something that an employer is required to accommodate,” Weisberg said.

What about people who don’t want to get the vaccine, even if their employer is requiring staff to get the shot.

“I understand that there are people that may have some legitimate concerns about it for one reason or another, but if you are not disabled, you don’t have a sincerely held religious belief, if you are just choosing not to get it for whatever reason there is no protection under the law right now that would prohibit your employer from firing you,” Weisberg said.

That is why Representative Russ Diamond introduced HB 262, also known as the Right To Refuse Act.

“This bill really centers on our right to retain authority over what is inserted or injected into our own bodies,” Rep. Diamond (R-Lebanon) said.

The Right To Refuse Act would make it illegal for employers to fire, threaten, retaliate against or discriminate against employees who opt out of a vaccine or invasive medical test.

Weisberg testified at the hearing about the Right To Refuse Act.

“This does provide some protection that is not there for an employee that doesn’t want to get the vaccine that doesn’t exist, but if you are going to give somebody protection from not getting the vaccine maybe think about what happens to people who are now worried about going to work because there are people that are not vaccinated. It cuts both ways,” Weisberg said.

The Right to Refuse act is currently sitting in the House Labor and Industry Committee.

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