CONNECTICUT (WTNH) — As more and more people get the COVID-19 vaccine, more and more people are wondering about legal issues surrounding the vaccine.
“The novel coronavirus has created some novel legal questions as well,” said Michael Soltis, a labor lawyer and Quinnipiac University law professor.
We started with the big question: Can I be fired for not getting the vaccine?
“As an employer, I’d be concerned about invasion of privacy claims if the employer says ‘you must get vaccinated, you must jab this vaccine into your arm,'” Soltis explained.
Union contracts might come into play too. Employers have to reasonably accommodate anyone with a religious objection or a medical condition that prevents them from getting vaccinated. Also, the vaccines are coming through an Emergency Use Authorization Act.
“There is some language in that act and in the regs that suggests that vaccinations administered under it cannot be mandatory,” said Soltis.
Second question: Can my employer ask if I’m vaccinated?
“If the employer says, ‘Have you been vaccinated?’ and the person says, ‘No.’ Then the employer says, ‘Why not?’ That may lead to the employee’s disclosing some medical conditions.”
Those questions and disclosures could violate medical privacy laws.
Question number three: My coworker won’t wear a mask. What can I do?
Professor Soltis said take your concerns to your supervisor. If nothing happens, call the authorities.
“Occupational Safety and Health Administration,” Soltis gave as one example. “They have the opportunity to call the state or local health department and lodge their complaint there.”
And question four: Do I have any recourse if I get COVID on the job?
Soltis says all you can do is file a claim with the state Workers’ Compensation Commission.
“The challenge for an employee is to be able to prove that I got COVID-19 at work,” Soltis explained. “The thinking is that if you have gone to work, you have probably gone to the store or lots of other places you could have gotten infected.”