Can Your Employer Mandate You Get The COVID Vaccine?
There are a lot of elements to unpack here, but basically, the answer is yes. Your employer can require that you get the COVID vaccine so long as it wouldn’t be dangerous for you to do so. If you have an autoimmune disorder or immunodeficiency then the vaccine could do more harm than good. A number of other conditions could also make the vaccine dangerous. So, what happens then? Better yet, what happens if you take the vaccine and suffer a serious injury?
While we’re not aware of any test cases thus far, if your employer requires you to take the vaccine and you fall seriously ill or have one of the rare complications, you may be entitled to file a workers’ compensation claim or even sue your employer. But there’s one more obstacle your case has to pass and that is COVID liability shields.
COVID liability shields, workers’ compensation, and personal injury lawsuits
Texas is currently in the midst of passing COVID liability protections which may be retroactive. However, lawsuits may move forward if the plaintiff can prove that the culpable party was “grossly” negligent. In other words, they must have deliberately spread the virus or acted against prevailing medical recommendations. However, this legislation has yet to pass and won’t go into effect until at least September of 2021. The question then becomes: Will the legislation prevent lawsuits that occurred before it was passed?
Some certainly want it to, so that remains a major possibility. That would also significantly reduce the type of leverage an injured worker would have in a workers’ compensation claim.
Workers’ comp in Texas
In Texas, employers do not have to carry workers’ compensation if they don’t want to. However, that leaves them open to being sued by workers who are injured due to their employer’s negligence. Work injury lawsuits can move forward if the employer carries workers’ comp under a small number of conditions. Essentially, workers’ comp acts as a barrier to lawsuits.
So, if an employer requires an employee to get the vaccine to remain at their job, one would imagine that the employer would be required to compensate the worker from their workers’ compensation policy. But what if the employer doesn’t carry a workers’ compensation policy? Does that mean that the employee will be able to sue the employer for forcing them to take the vaccine or losing their job? Unclear.
The elements of such a lawsuit would require that the employer had foreknowledge of a medical condition that prevented them from safely taking the vaccine. Workers may be forced to bring in doctor’s notes. Employers would have to honor those notes or risk a lawsuit. Then, their premiums could spike because they’re requiring their employees to get the vaccine.
Talk to a Houston Personal Injury Lawyer Today
The Houston personal injury attorneys at Livingston & Flowers handle all personal injury-related lawsuits filed against negligent defendants. Call our office today to schedule a free consultation and we can begin working on your case immediately.