Employee rights vs vaccine mandates

Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:
Masked people in downtown Fort Myers. Credit: WINK News

Tampa is slated to announce Wednesday morning that all city employees will be required to get a COVID-19 vaccine. The list of employers mandating vaccines is growing. But workers who don’t want the vaccine want to know what they can do to keep their jobs.

Neither available option is ideal for the worker: You can leave your job and try to pursue another one because you feel so strongly about not getting vaccinated, or you can take your employer to court. If you do, however, you will likely be facing an uphill battle.

Ben Yormak, a board-certified expert in labor employment law, says he doesn’t believe lawsuits will work at all, because the severity of the public health emergency we are living through may trump any one individual’s argument.

“In all likelihood, the employer is able to require the vaccine and your options are effectively take it or leave it,” Yormak said. “The other option is to get enough people together and potentially… essentially unionize to object to it, and maybe level the playing field that way; hasn’t been tested yet. But that might be another option.”

If you don’t want to get a vaccine, these mandates seem to be a concern on a national scale, but not so much on a regional or local level. Yormak says we are about to see different decisions made around the country based not merely in science or fact, but on each individual employer’s ethical standards.

“You know, I think that you’re going to see philosophical differences with employers really come out,” Yormak said. “Much more with the vaccinations, some places that are very passionate that say, ‘Everybody’s got to get vaccinated, and we view it as a social policy,’ you’re going to see those businesses take a hardline stance. And I think you’re going to see other businesses that say, ‘We just need staff to stay open, so I don’t really care if you’re vaccinated or not, we’ll deal with that within your employment.'”

While major corporations are beginning to require that their employees get vaccinated, eight different businesses WINK News spoke to in Fort Myers and Cape Coral said they won’t yet be requiring their employees to get vaccinated.

“I can’t even find anyone to hire,” one business owner said. “I need workers, I don’t care if they’re vaccinated or not.”

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