Can my employer enforce mandatory flu shot vaccinations with termination for non-compliance?

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Can my employer enforce mandatory flu shot vaccinations with termination for non-compliance?

I work in a hospital billing office located off campus from the actual hospital itself and have no patient contact. My employer is making me go to a class this year regarding flu shots and making me sign a letter of declination. They also have stated that next year they plan on making flu vaccinations mandatory. Those who do not comply will be terminated. Is this legal? Can they force me to inject things into my body against my will and beliefs?

Asked on November 8, 2010 under Employment Labor Law, Washington

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Most employment relationships are what is known as "at will".  This means that you can work for an employer or not, your choice.  It also means that basically your employer can hire or fire you for any reason or no reason whatsoever, as well has increase/decrease salary/hours, promote/demote, and generally impose requirements as they see fit.  This includes imposing the requirement of mandatory flu shots. 

Exceptions to the above would be if there is a stated company policy or there is a union/employment agreement that run contrary to your employer's action.  Additionally, this mandate could be held to be illegal if it constitutes some form of workplace discrimination. (i.e., for reasons due to your race, religion, age, disability, sex, national origin).  Absent any of the foregoing, or you can't get such a shot due to a medical condition of some sort, your employer's action does not violate the law.


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