Can Employers Request Their Employees Take Shots, Vaccinations or Other Medical Tests
forced employee vaccination

Many employees who work in the healthcare field are required to get flu shots or other types of vaccinations as a condition of employment. Some employers require a TB (tuberculosis) skin test be taken before beginning work. Other employers or potential employers may require drug tests. Some employees wonder if these tests are legal, and what legal rights they may have to refuse the medical procedures.

Common Complaints To Medical Procedures At Work

The most common complaint that arises in relation to medical procedures at work is the flu shot. Many, if not most, healthcare facilities require that their employees get a flu shot at the beginning of flu season. Most employees comply. However, some people are opposed to flu shots. They may feel that they are unsafe, since the shots do expose the individual to the flu virus. Because the vaccine is grown in chicken eggs, they may be allergic to the vaccine if they are allergic to eggs. Many people have a religious or moral objection to the vaccine.

If an employer forces employees to get a flu shot against their objections, it could be held liable under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, and other laws. By law, Americans cannot be discriminated against in employment on the basis of their religion or disability. If an employee has a religious objection to a flu shot, or a medical reason why he or she cannot get one, and the employer forces the employee to get the shot, that could be a violation of state and federal law.

Employees Are Not Always Exempt

However, simply because the employee has a religious or moral objection to a flu shot doesn’t mean he or she is exempt. Instead, it means that the employer and the employee should have a discussion on ways to accommodate the employee’s decision. By law, the employer is required to reasonably accommodate an employee’s request for special treatment based on religion or disability. For example, if the employee could wear a mask when interacting with patients instead of getting the shot, that could be an acceptable solution. However, if a flu shot or another vaccination is an absolute requirement, the employee may have to find another job. This general rule would also apply to TB skin tests or other vaccinations.

Drug Testing and Medical Procedures At Work In California

Drug testing, however, has different rules that apply. Under California law, employers may require employees to pass a drug test a condition of employment. So long as the employer tests all applicants, and doesn’t only pick certain applicants, drug testing is allowed. If an employer wants to test a current employee for drugs, standards have to be applied. Random testing is usually not allowed under California law. If an employer wants to test an employee for drugs, courts usually balance the reason for testing versus the employee’s expectation of privacy. If an employer had a reasonable suspicion that an employee was using drugs (needle marks, erratic behavior, etc.), the testing probably would be upheld as long as the suspicion was based on objective facts. However, many employees have challenged drug tests on the basis of disability discrimination, invasion of privacy and defamation.

Speak To A California Employment Attorney

If you are an employee and you believe your legal rights are being violated by being forced to take a drug test, TB skin test, vaccinations, or drug tests, call Liberty Law. Micha Star Liberty, Oakland employment attorney, believes that employers should respect the legal rights of employees in the workplace. Call Liberty Law today if you have questions about your rights as an employee at 510-645-1000 or 415-896-1000. She will be happy to speak with you about your case.

Organizations & Awards

  • Top Alameda Employment Lawyers

Our Address & Phone

1999 Harrison Street, Suite 1800
Oakland, CA 94612-4700

Oakland (510) 645-1000
San Francisco (415) 896-1000