Author Topic: Mandatory Flu Shots At Work  (Read 31555 times)

Offline cheryl1

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Mandatory Flu Shots At Work
« on: September 18, 2011, 06:58:56 AM »
I came to work this morning and everyone is buzzing about a rumor that the hospital is going to mandate flu vaccination for all employees this year. And not only that, but that if you opt out because of religious or allergic reasons, you must have a note from your doctor or pastor excusing you. And..if you don't take the shot for either reason you will be required to wear a mask for the duration of your shift until the end of flu season.

The only official release so far is an e-mail telling us that the hospital's goal this year is 100% compliance and that the first department to get 100% gets to have a popcorn party. (Probably butterless popcorn-they already took away our candy vending machines and replaced them with oat bars). We are supposed to look for communication from our managers for more information.

I don't know if a lot of the rumor is just hype and hysteria, or if something like this is really coming. This is the same organization that says with a straight face that the reason security is patrolling the parking lot is to keep nurses from smoking in their cars and bringing "third-hand" smoke into the hospital.

My question is this..is it legal to require a person who is displaying no signs or symptoms of the flu and who declined vaccination on religious grounds to wear a face covering for 6 months? Has anyone ever dealt with this? Seems like a person could claim a hostile work environment due to religious discrimination.

For those who might say "quit your job!", I can quit and work for any other hospital in this country and face the same problems. They are all the same because they are all drinking the same kool-aid.

For those who say everyone should be vaccinated so they don't spread the flu, if you are vaccinated, why do you care if I have been or not? Science says you can't get it, right?

So.....what do you think?

I wonder if a note from me as the Head Minister of the Church of Independent Thinking as well as a note from my doc stating that having my face covered for extended periods of time will cause anxiety attacks, skin rashes, and a grumpy disposition will get me out of this (so far) hypothetical situation!    ::)
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Offline Oil Lady

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Re: Mandatory Flu Shots At Work
« Reply #1 on: September 18, 2011, 07:33:13 AM »
I don't believe the forced wearing of a mask is necessarilly a hostile work environment, HOWEVER .... when you combine the forced wearing of a mask with this:

the hospital's goal this year is 100% compliance and that the first department to get 100% gets to have a popcorn party.

-- then I think we finally have the official makings of a hostile situation.

If your department fails to get 100% compliance all because of little old you, then your department doesn't get that popcorn party. And therefore, more than one or two people will be asking, "Who's the rat fink who stole our popcorn party from us?"And the answer will be: the one and only person who has to wear a mask every day now.

When I worked for a financial firm, I told management in a formal e-mail where I cc'd quite a few upper-ups that "group rewards" that are conditional upon 100% compliance of a VOLUNTARY activity are never good for exactly this reason. The one dissenter always gets rooted out and castigated. And THAT is a hostile work environment (In my situation, it was a failure to achieve 100% participation in the United Way drive that year which deprived everyone of some stupid reward. The one dissenter didn't give to the United Way for religious reasons. I watched every day as the United Way captain on my floor came to my co-worker's desk at 4:30 each afternoon without fail, almost harassing him to fill out his United Way form. She kept telling him "But if you don't fill it out, we'll lose the contest!" I found it unacceptable and after a week of her pressuring him I finally fired off that e-mail. BTW, I gave to the United Way every year when I worked there.)

Now ... would grown men and women REALLY get all silly and petty over a stinkin' popcorn party?

Yes, they would.   




(edited for an extra-bone-headed typo)



« Last Edit: September 18, 2011, 08:52:37 AM by Oil Lady »
"This is the first scenario I've seen where I question the survivability of mankind." -- self-made billionaire Richard Rainwater in his business analysis of Peak Oil, "The Rainwater Prophecy," Fortune magazine, Dec 26, 2005

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"... it doesn’t really matter who is removing your civil liberties, whether it is being done by a democratic government, a kleptocracy, a dictatorship or even the green police. When your civil rights are gone, they’re gone, and you really are in trouble, no matter how good the cause." --UK journalist Anthony Harrington, "Peak Oil and Collapse Scenarios," QFinance, September, 2011

Our parents used to say, "Don't worry, the government will take care of it."
And now our kids say, "Don't worry, the government will take care of us."

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Offline cheryl1

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Re: Mandatory Flu Shots At Work
« Reply #2 on: September 18, 2011, 07:46:25 AM »
Now ... would grown men and women REALLY get all silly and petty over a stinkin' popcorn party?

Yes, they would.   


Agreed! However, I have been listening to TSP and gently spreading the message here for quite awhile. We might be the first department to maintain a near 0% compliance! Seriously, we have the same 7 here every weekend and we've all been here for 3 years. The first year 6/7 got their flu shots, last year it was about 1/2 and 1/2, and so far only one of us this year is -publicly- saying they will get it.  We aren't the only group that doesn't like this rumored policy, but I bet we'll be the only group still in masks on November 1st!
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Offline Oil Lady

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Re: Mandatory Flu Shots At Work
« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2011, 08:50:06 AM »
She's a subversive agent of anarchy! ;)


"This is the first scenario I've seen where I question the survivability of mankind." -- self-made billionaire Richard Rainwater in his business analysis of Peak Oil, "The Rainwater Prophecy," Fortune magazine, Dec 26, 2005

"This is an emergency far worse than World War I and World War II put together." -- CEO of Virgin Airlines, Sir Richard Branson on Peak Oil in CNN's investigative report "We Were Warned: Out of Gas" June 2007/May 2008 03:05

"We've got provisions and lots of beer. The key word is survival on the new frontier." --Steely Dan 1983

"... it doesn’t really matter who is removing your civil liberties, whether it is being done by a democratic government, a kleptocracy, a dictatorship or even the green police. When your civil rights are gone, they’re gone, and you really are in trouble, no matter how good the cause." --UK journalist Anthony Harrington, "Peak Oil and Collapse Scenarios," QFinance, September, 2011

Our parents used to say, "Don't worry, the government will take care of it."
And now our kids say, "Don't worry, the government will take care of us."

No food shall be grown that Monsanto does not own. (It all started with the disastrous 1980 SCOTUS ruling on Diamond v Chakrabarty. Petition your Congressman to revoke all patents on living things.)

"The nation that destroys its soil destroys itself." FDR 1937

The Tin Foil Hat Song by the League of Lady Conspiracists

Offline rustyknife

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Re: Mandatory Flu Shots At Work
« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2011, 09:50:15 AM »
Good for you. Stick to what you believe is right. This "mandatory, 100% compliance" thing is spreading into a lot of different areas of our lives. To me it's just a beginning or to say an introduction to the idea "are you in or are you out".

Question, wouldn't being forced to wear a mask at work for an extended period of time be a form of harassment?
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Offline cheryl1

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Re: Mandatory Flu Shots At Work
« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2011, 10:01:07 AM »
I would call it harassment, but I have common sense.  ;D
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Offline hanzel

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Re: Mandatory Flu Shots At Work
« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2011, 10:32:14 AM »
Question, wouldn't being forced to wear a mask at work for an extended period of time be a form of harassment?

Yes, you could argue that singling out certain workers and forcing them to wear a mask would be a form of harassment.  If I have to wear one for the "safety" of the patient, then you have to wear it for the "safety" of the patient, the same as it I was required to wear a hard hat and steel toed boots in certain work environments for my safety, then you must also for the same reason.  If I have the flu and breathe on you and your coworker, you not having a flu shot and the coworker having one, you will both be carrying my flu virus, just your coworker is more likely to not to catch it ( and all this is depends on if the coworker flu shot covers the flu I have, if I have Bird Flu and you had the Swine Flu shot, then you both get it, and now you are the safer person to be around since you have a mask on ).
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Offline cheryl1

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Re: Mandatory Flu Shots At Work
« Reply #7 on: September 18, 2011, 10:43:12 AM »
My main concern with this is that it is compliance, compliance, compliance. They don't truly care about the patient or the co-workers, it is about the numbers they can report to the government.  Last week, I was coughed and hacked all over by a co-worker who tried to call in sick, was told no she didn't give 2 hours notice, came in and tried to get sent home only to be told no, you are already here and you have a patient assignment. She had to work her shift with snot running off her face and a hacking cough. You only get to go home for a fever. Oh, and she didn't have to wear a mask!

I actually like the company I work for and I think they do a lot of things right. This one just seems over the top to me.

I get that people can carry the flu virus whether they are vaccinated or not, but seriously, that is not the grossest thing I am carrying. I would love to see 100% compliance with them washing my uniforms in the industrial washers instead of me dragging C. Diff spores into my home.

Does anybody know how often the strain that they vaccinate for is the strain that actually hits or know a reputable source for that info? Had some more co-workers ask for info today ;)
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Offline FreeLancer

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Re: Mandatory Flu Shots At Work
« Reply #8 on: September 18, 2011, 11:44:01 AM »
Does anybody know how often the strain that they vaccinate for is the strain that actually hits or know a reputable source for that info? Had some more co-workers ask for info today ;)

It varies from 40-90% and is usually surprisingly high, but even poorly matched vaccine has been shown to significantly reduce influenza deaths.

http://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/vaccination/effectivenessqa.htm

I believe the CDC is a reputable source, but feel free to disagree.
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Offline hanzel

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Re: Mandatory Flu Shots At Work
« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2011, 12:00:54 PM »
Last week, I was coughed and hacked all over by a co-worker who tried to call in sick, was told no she didn't give 2 hours notice, came in and tried to get sent home only to be told no, you are already here and you have a patient assignment. She had to work her shift with snot running off her face and a hacking cough.

I found that, work like school, if you throw up on your teacher or Boss, they will normally send you home a lot faster
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Offline ShannonB

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Re: Mandatory Flu Shots At Work
« Reply #10 on: September 18, 2011, 12:48:39 PM »
Just remember you may have a few co-workers who might want the flu shot. Think about finding them a place to get it, like a local pharmacy or their PP so they are getting it a little more off radar, if that is their choice. Then they are able to make their own decision about it and not being forced into compliance with your employer OR you.

Then they have the choice of wearing the mask to show solidarity and disagreement with being told they HAVE to do something.
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Offline cheryl1

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Re: Mandatory Flu Shots At Work
« Reply #11 on: September 18, 2011, 02:44:58 PM »
True Shannonb, hopefully the mask thing is all a rumor, but I am wondering what I would say to my patients about why I am wearing one.
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Offline ShannonB

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Re: Mandatory Flu Shots At Work
« Reply #12 on: September 18, 2011, 05:03:01 PM »
Even if its not, wear it anyways. Show them you wont be bullied, quietly & peacefully.  If patients ask, just tell them it is a new policy during flu season... Which technically wouldnt be a lie and wouldnt give them any insight either way into you choice.
I'll keep my guns, freedom and money. You can keep your "Change".

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Offline Pathfinder

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Re: Mandatory Flu Shots At Work
« Reply #13 on: September 18, 2011, 05:09:13 PM »
I know 2 years ago with the flu vaccine shortage, i would have had to be chained to the gurney to force me to take a shot - a couple months testing, a process that normally takes a year? No thank you. I did get one last year tho, kind of a medical issue for me.

So, has anyone heard anything about the quality or lack thereof of this year's batch of doses?
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Offline hanzel

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Re: Mandatory Flu Shots At Work
« Reply #14 on: September 18, 2011, 06:32:39 PM »
True Shannonb, hopefully the mask thing is all a rumor, but I am wondering what I would say to my patients about why I am wearing one.

Reading your original posting again, there is an opt out you said for religious reasons, are those who do still required to wear a mask ?  I guess you could put a star of david or purple triangle ( even better black triangle meant you where anti social -- I had to look these up ) on the mask.  I think your HSE people are looking at a good law suit and dont know it yet, again, if they claim safety, it must be an all or nothing.

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Re: Mandatory Flu Shots At Work
« Reply #15 on: September 18, 2011, 07:44:15 PM »
I Highly doubt your Hospital is going to force you to take a flu shot. They DO strongly urge us to every year, but nobody (Even during the pandemic) forced anybody to take a flu shot where I work (A large Hospital outside of Atlanta). Think about it... they would be opening themselves up for all kinds of liability in the event that even a "mild" adverse reaction occured in one of their employees. NO Hospital is going to go there legally. They have enough lawsuits to contend with without worrying about that kind of a situation. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said you heard "A rumor". Our Hospital just makes us sign something saying that we declined it. End of story. Think about it.... WHO is going to police the hallways and FORCE employees to wear a mask all day? THEY don't know who had the shot or not. They keep their staff to a bare minimum...  are they going to hire extra folks to pull "Mask patrol" ?  In my opinion, You're over reacting, and stirring up a hot mess of anti-vaccine propaganda.

Offline Robinelli

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Re: Mandatory Flu Shots At Work
« Reply #16 on: September 18, 2011, 09:00:24 PM »
I'm a nursing student and the hospital I worked at last semester required a flu shot or that you wear a mask the entire time you were in the building. Seeing as patients don't like that I didn't have much of a choice but to get the shot.
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nomh

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Re: Mandatory Flu Shots At Work
« Reply #17 on: September 18, 2011, 09:21:13 PM »
I'm a nursing student and the hospital I worked at last semester required a flu shot or that you wear a mask the entire time you were in the building. Seeing as patients don't like that I didn't have much of a choice but to get the shot.

~ Do you mean the hospital you did "Clinicals" in? How were you working as a student? The nursing students at our near by University are required by the school of nursing to get a flu shot...(Or the hospital won't let them in as students) (The hospital won't be held liable if a student has an adverse reaction, the school of nursing will).   because the hospital doesn't want to be held Liable for a patient catching influenza and dying from a student. That's a different circumstance. That's a teaching hospital protecting it's patients. We also did not allow anybody under the age of 19 to visit until the Pandemic was over. Were the  actual employees at that hospital MADE to take a flu shot too?

Offline Robinelli

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Re: Mandatory Flu Shots At Work
« Reply #18 on: September 19, 2011, 03:24:41 PM »
First semester clinical course Holistic/Fundamentals- Hospital A didn't require shot
Second semester clinical course Adult Health- Hospital B required shot for all employees and students
Third semester (current) I'm at 3 different hospitals for Ob, peds, and mental (Hospitals C,D, and E). No shots required for these.

So basically I've been at 5 different hospitals and 1 of them REQUIRED the flu shot. The others have not.

And to answer your question, you are correct that by saying "working" I was referring to "doing clinicals" at the hospital.

I should mention, I'm nowhere near the age of 19 ;) I've nearly been with my husband that many years.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2011, 03:29:59 PM by Robinelli »
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Offline cheryl1

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Re: Mandatory Flu Shots At Work
« Reply #19 on: September 19, 2011, 04:06:47 PM »
I'm not too riled up about this, because like I said, the mandatory masks are just a rumor so far. And whatever comes, I am not taking a flu shot. I did decide last night that if it does turn out to be true, then I am going to ask the administration for something in writing that outlines what I am supposed to tell my patients. I don't want to get into any gray areas that might put my job in jeopardy.

I'll bet they do pay extra for people to roam the halls on mask patrol. Last year the vaccinated got an actual sign to wear that said "I care about my patients, I got the flu shot". And yes, there were extra people in the halls over a couple of weeks asking, "Don't you care about your patients? Where is your sign? You haven't gotten your flu shot yet?" Gotta see it to believe it!

It did make me feel good to hear someone say that if there was only one person in the hospital who doesn't cave, it will be me.
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Offline endurance

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Re: Mandatory Flu Shots At Work
« Reply #20 on: September 19, 2011, 04:17:36 PM »
Reading your original posting again, there is an opt out you said for religious reasons, are those who do still required to wear a mask ?  I guess you could put a star of david or purple triangle ( even better black triangle meant you where anti social -- I had to look these up ) on the mask.  I think your HSE people are looking at a good law suit and dont know it yet, again, if they claim safety, it must be an all or nothing.
Careful on pushing legal advice when people need to keep their jobs in this economy.  This isn't a case you can win.  First off, the hospital has deeper pockets than you as an individual has.  If you call 100 civil rights attorneys on this, half will tell you the truth that it's a loser case, the other half will charge you by the hour until you're broke.  Nobody will take it on contingency. 

Since people could also have allergies that prevent them from getting the shot, you aren't being forced to put a star of david on your chest because of religion...  OSHA will trump EEO law any day.  It isn't all or nothing, it's get the shot or wear a mask. 

Personally, I see unemployment as a great risk than a flu shot, but to each their own.
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Offline FreeLancer

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Re: Mandatory Flu Shots At Work
« Reply #21 on: September 19, 2011, 04:50:55 PM »
Careful on pushing legal advice when people need to keep their jobs in this economy.  This isn't a case you can win.  First off, the hospital has deeper pockets than you as an individual has.  If you call 100 civil rights attorneys on this, half will tell you the truth that it's a loser case, the other half will charge you by the hour until you're broke.  Nobody will take it on contingency. 

Since people could also have allergies that prevent them from getting the shot, you aren't being forced to put a star of david on your chest because of religion...  OSHA will trump EEO law any day.  It isn't all or nothing, it's get the shot or wear a mask. 

Personally, I see unemployment as a great risk than a flu shot, but to each their own.

As per his usual, endurance speaks with the voice of reason.
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Offline cheryl1

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Re: Mandatory Flu Shots At Work
« Reply #22 on: September 19, 2011, 05:13:45 PM »
If it was flu shot or fired, then I would quit. I work for fun money anyway. But I don't see that happening. I'll just hope the rumor isn't true, but if it is I'll wear the mask. I imagine you would still have to wear the mask if you opted out for religious reasons, since the theory is you are endangering others by not being vaccinated.

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Re: Mandatory Flu Shots At Work
« Reply #23 on: September 19, 2011, 05:30:07 PM »
The whole get the shot or wear the mask is based on debatable assumptions, which makes it perfectly defensible. That said, any negative behavior towards people that choose to wear the masks and it sure sounds like a hostile work environment to me. Thing is, you can't bring a case for damages that might happen in the future. A friendly anonymous letter to HR / safety discussing the issue with the masks acting as a factor in people getting singled out for negative treatment might get them to reconsider.

The other thought is that I'd consider claiming personal belief rather than medical or organized religious belief and sign as your own pastor to opt out from the shot. Trying to opt out of the shot and the mask sounds like a no go since they are arguing a safety issue. Just an example, but years back I worked in a clean room. There were two Muslim sisters that worked as operators. Take a wild guess if they were allowed to wear their burkas past the gown in room...

Offline endurance

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Re: Mandatory Flu Shots At Work
« Reply #24 on: September 19, 2011, 05:39:00 PM »
The whole get the shot or wear the mask is based on debatable assumptions, which makes it perfectly defensible. That said, any negative behavior towards people that choose to wear the masks and it sure sounds like a hostile work environment to me. Thing is, you can't bring a case for damages that might happen in the future. A friendly anonymous letter to HR / safety discussing the issue with the masks acting as a factor in people getting singled out for negative treatment might get them to reconsider.

The other thought is that I'd consider claiming personal belief rather than medical or organized religious belief and sign as your own pastor to opt out from the shot. Trying to opt out of the shot and the mask sounds like a no go since they are arguing a safety issue. Just an example, but years back I worked in a clean room. There were two Muslim sisters that worked as operators. Take a wild guess if they were allowed to wear their burkas past the gown in room...
Not to belabor this point, but there is no protection under federal law against a "hostile work environment" unless the disparate treatment is because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, or genetic information.  Those are the only bases protected by federal law and if you're subjected to a HWE because you wear blue socks, there is no federal protection.  I work with these laws every day.  There is no federal protection for "personal belief".  It doesn't exist, just like there's no federal protection as a private citizen for your job against discrimination because of sexual orientation.  While your state may have other laws that offer more protection, odds are it doesn't.   Most states want to encourage businesses, not chase them off with fear of litigation.

The assumption of rights in the workplace is one of the leading causes of unemployment.  You have far fewer rights in the workplace than you think you do.  While some companies may go the extra mile to accommodate all sorts of folks, they don't always do it out of necessity. 
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Offline cheryl1

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Re: Mandatory Flu Shots At Work
« Reply #25 on: September 20, 2011, 01:09:23 PM »
I could see someone claiming a hostile work environment if they refused the shot due to religious belief, and were then ridiculed for wearing a mask instead. I think the policy would be stupid, but I don't see my friends creating a hostile environment for me. I work weekends so no bosses to deal with  ;D.

I think it will be interesting to see how different facilities treat vaccination this year, since it seems like the official push for shots has really ramped up recently-as compared to other years.
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Offline dep190

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Re: Mandatory Flu Shots At Work
« Reply #26 on: September 20, 2011, 03:07:36 PM »
Not that i am a fan of them but i would have my spouse make a call to the local aclu!
The forced wearing of masks is a joke since patients are not required to get the shot or wear a mask!They are giving the same shot this year as they gave last year because they did not sell enough last year!!!!

Offline Nate

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Re: Mandatory Flu Shots At Work
« Reply #27 on: September 20, 2011, 03:24:04 PM »
I work in kidney dialysis and my company is urging 100% compliance of patients and staff.  As a staff we get movie tix if 100% of us get vaccinated.  Nice gesture really.  But they arent forcing us to get them....not even strongly encouraging.
NATE

"This is the Law of the Yukon, that only the Strong shall thrive;
That surely the Weak shall perish, and only the Fit survive."  Robert Service

inbox485

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Re: Mandatory Flu Shots At Work
« Reply #28 on: September 21, 2011, 01:17:28 PM »
Not to belabor this point, but there is no protection under federal law against a "hostile work environment" unless the disparate treatment is because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, or genetic information.  Those are the only bases protected by federal law and if you're subjected to a HWE because you wear blue socks, there is no federal protection.  I work with these laws every day.  There is no federal protection for "personal belief".  It doesn't exist, just like there's no federal protection as a private citizen for your job against discrimination because of sexual orientation.  While your state may have other laws that offer more protection, odds are it doesn't.   Most states want to encourage businesses, not chase them off with fear of litigation.

The assumption of rights in the workplace is one of the leading causes of unemployment.  You have far fewer rights in the workplace than you think you do.  While some companies may go the extra mile to accommodate all sorts of folks, they don't always do it out of necessity. 

That (in bold) I didn't know. How do they draw the line between religion and personal belief. Documented position of an organized religion?

Also good point on the state issue.

inbox485

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Re: Mandatory Flu Shots At Work
« Reply #29 on: September 21, 2011, 01:19:24 PM »
Not that i am a fan of them but i would have my spouse make a call to the local aclu!
The forced wearing of masks is a joke since patients are not required to get the shot or wear a mask!They are giving the same shot this year as they gave last year because they did not sell enough last year!!!!

At least it has a safety track record longer than a few weeks...  ::)