Can CT employers require staff to get COVID vaccine? Some say they will

Connecticut

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (WTNH) — Some Connecticut employers are now telling staff they must be vaccinated for COVID-19 in order to keep their jobs.

RELATED: Can you get fired for not getting the COVID-19 vaccine?

Jewish Senior Services (JSS) in Bridgeport is one of at least two Connecticut employers mandating that workers get vaccinated.

Monday after the Easter holiday weekend, the National Guard gave out doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to staff members. 650 out of 800 employees have their shots—and almost every resident.

President and CEO Andrew Banoff said, some hold-outs remain, but he says there’s no room for error when it comes to the safety of clients and staff.

“We’re hopeful that each and every person chooses to get vaccinated because we don’t want anyone to leave their employment for that reason,” said Banoff.

JSS is at the forefront of employers making vaccination a condition of employment, so is Community Renewal Team (CRT) in Hartford. 

“We serve what would have to be considered the most vulnerable population. We serve children, we serve seniors,” said CRT spokesperson Jason Black. “We’re serving a lot of those people face-to-face.”

So get a jab or lose your job? Both groups say it’s not that simple.

They are having extensive meetings and personal conversations with each staff member to educate and reassure those who may be reluctant. Banoff says the relative success of the national vaccine rollout is encouraging for those employees who may have initially expressed concern.

“It is something we want people to fully understand to really be able to make sure they’re making an informed decision,” said Black.

Both CRT and JSS say legally they’re well within their rights as employers to mandate vaccination or terminate employment.

Governor Ned Lamont tells News 8 he’ll leave it up to businesses: “I think it makes a certain amount of sense. But again, I’m not going to mandate that. I think every business will decide for themselves.”

So far, both organizations say the vast majority of their staff has been eager and willing to comply with the new mandates. Those who aren’t must make their choice soon. For JSS, the deadline is May 1.

“My heart aches for those people who are suffering with the decision,” said Banoff.

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