Asked in Employment Discrimination and Employment Law for Oklahoma

Q: Can an employer require employees to get fully vaccinated for COVID-19, if employee has natural immunity?

Employer sent email stating that all employees are required to receive a vaccine and provide proof by a certain date, otherwise will be terminated.

1 Lawyer Answer
Howard Berkson
Howard Berkson
  • Employment Law Lawyer
  • Tulsa, OK
  • Licensed in Oklahoma

A: Right now, the answer seems to be yes that an employer can require employees to get vaccinated. Hospital employees have been required to get flu vaccinations and people typically have to receive vaccinations in order to attend schools, including universities. The situation is more complicated when it is a government requirement, but private employers historically have been able to do this. However, employers generally have to at least review and consider requests for exemption based on religion or health. Here in Oklahoma, St. John Ascension was ordered by a judge not to suspend or fire any employees who failed to get a vaccine under the company's mandate, but only because the company did not grant any religious exemptions. I haven't looked into the details, so I don't know if that's because the employer did not have an adequate process for granting religious exemptions or if it had adequate process but was suspicious because it did not grant any exemptions.

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