Tampa, FL asked in Employment Law for Florida

Q: Does a manager have the right to shame employee for not getting the Covid-19 vaccine?

I live in Florida and where I work it is recommended but not mandatory to have the Covid-19 vaccine. However, every chance my manager gets she bashes me publicly in front of my coworkers and customers. Saying things such as “ you’re going to be the reason another catastrophe happens”. If the vaccine was mandated by corporate I would understand, but it is not. Is this my boss can do to try and force me to get the vaccine?

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2 Lawyer Answers
Jay P. Lechner Esq.
Jay P. Lechner Esq.
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Tampa, FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: Good question. While a private employer is permitted to require employees to be vaccinated, information about an employee’s COVID-19 vaccination status is considered confidential medical information under the ADA. According to the EEOC, the ADA requires an employer to maintain the confidentiality of employee medical information, such as documentation or other confirmation of COVID-19 vaccination. This ADA confidentiality requirement applies regardless of where the employee gets the vaccination. Although the EEO laws themselves do not prevent employers from requiring employees to bring in documentation or other confirmation of vaccination, this information, like all medical information, must be kept confidential and stored separately from the employee’s personnel files under the ADA. Employers must make every effort to limit the number of people who are provide this information, and the information must not be used for any purpose inconsistent with the ADA.

Bruce Alexander Minnick
Bruce Alexander Minnick
Answered
  • Tallahassee, FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: Teaching opportunity: Florida is an “at will” state, which means private employers are free to hire, promote, demote, suspend, reinstate, fire and rehire employees for any reason at any time, i.e., “at will.” The only thing employers cannot do is make any of these adverse employment decisions based upon the employee’s race, gender, age, handicap, disability, religion, marital status or national origin.

Since you failed even to mention your race, gender, age, religion, marital status, national origin or any "handicap" it is highly unlikely that you could state am actionable claim under any of these categories or theories.

So the only possible area of legal inquiry under your set of facts is under the Americans with Disabilities Act (the ADA). In order to state a claim under the ADA the claimant must prove they have a real physical or mental "disability" that adversely limits, impacts or affects one or more of their "major life activities" and that the employer is aware of it.

Although your supervisor is acting really stupid and childish, IMO their actions do not arise to the level needed to support a claim against your employer under the ADA. But you can certainly report them to your HR department.

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