Hospitals Move to Fire Workers Who Refuse to Take Flu Shots

Hospitals are increasingly cracking down on their own employees who refuse to take flu shots.

Nurses refuse flu shot - employment issuesAccording to a Jan. 12 report in The Associated Press, U.S. hospitals are facing the tricky question of how to handle employees who do not get flu shots at a time when a nationwide outbreak is causing serious illnesses and fatalities.

Hospitals are increasingly cracking down on employees who will not get flu shots with some workers losing their jobs over refusing to get the vaccine. According to a Jan. 12 Associated Press report, hospitals' tough stance coincides with what has turned out to be a deadly flu season that has severely sickened many and has killed at least 20 children nationwide, the report states. The Associated Press reports that at least 15 nurses and other members of hospital staff in four states have been fired for refusing flu shots and many others have resigned as a result of employers pressuring them to get these vaccines.

While studies show that flu vaccinations generally tend to reduce the incidence of the flu, hospital employees say that they have rights and should have a choice just like other patients to not put something in their bodies if they don't want to, according to the article. But hospital officials say that when individuals work in a sensitive environment, getting vaccinated against the flu is necessary, the report states.

Hospitals are also justifying their policies by pointing to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control's warning that this year's flu outbreak is expected to be among the worst in the decade. The report states that in 2011, more than 400 hospitals mandated flu shots for employees and 29 hospitals fired unvaccinated employees. Several states have laws or regulations requiring flu vaccinations for healthcare workers, but only three states – Arkansas, Maine and Rhode Island – spell out penalties for those who refuse the shots, The Associated Press reports.

This is an interesting debate, which raises several important issues, says John Bisnar, founder of the Bisnar | Chase employment law firm. "Under state and federal law, employees have rights to make personal choices and decisions based on their own life experience and beliefs. However, there are certain exceptions where certain actions and behavior on the part of the employee may be necessary for the performance of the particular job."

Employees who believe that their rights have been violated or that they have been discriminated against or wrongfully terminated should obtain more information about their legal rights, Bisnar said. "State and federal laws relating to employment issues can be complex. It is important to understand these issues thoroughly in order to make an informed decision regarding pursuing your legal rights."

The California employment lawyers of Bisnar | Chase represent victims of discrimination at the workplace, auto accidents, defective products, dangerous roadways, and many other personal injuries. The firm has been featured on a number of popular media outlets including Newsweek, Fox, NBC, and ABC and is known for its passionate pursuit of results for their clients. For more information, please call 949-203-3814 or visit for a free consultation.

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