So far in 2015, 170 people in 17 states have been infected with measles, most stemming from a large outbreak at Disneyland. Several of the infected were infants too young to receive vaccinations, as well as others unable to receive a vaccine for medical reasons. Incidence of measles has increased in prevalence due in some part to the increased phenomenon of vaccine refusal.
Employers worried about potentially spreading measles in the workplace may wonder whether they can require employees to get vaccinated, but it is a bit of a murky question. Legally, an employer can tell workers to get vaccinated, but this opens up a risk of lawsuits under federal and state laws.
What Laws Protect Workers Who Do Not Wish to Be Vaccinated?
For example, the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination on medical grounds in the workplace. Religious beliefs that preclude vaccination could also provide grounds for a lawsuit under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The ADA, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) are all meant to protect worker privacy, meaning that even asking an employee about vaccination statuses could open up a discrimination case.
The best way for an employer to protect employees from the spread of contagious diseases is to educate workers on methods to contain disease, like proper hygiene, as well as encouraging workers who do not feel well to stay home.
Atkerson Law – Dallas Employment Attorney