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Do Companies Have The Right To Fire Unvaccinated Employees?

  • 06-08-2021 10:43am
    Registered Users Posts: 10,736 ✭✭✭✭ JupiterKid

    I see in the news this morning that CNN, one of the biggest global news networks, had fired three of its staff for not getting vaccinated for Covid-19, as employees in the network and elsewhere begin to return to their workplaces from home working.

    Article here:

    Personally, I am fully vaccinated and I understand the policy of CNN from a public health perspective (protecting their other employees etc) but could the employees who do not wish to be vaccinated have a right to challenge their dismissal if they can fully work from home, thus not placing their colleagues in any danger?

    Can employees for a given company be fired for refusing to be vaccinated? Can and will this happen here in Ireland also?



  • Registered Users Posts: 1,102 ✭✭✭ chrissb8

    Whenever these types of things pop up remember the laws to being fired in Ireland are far more robust than in America. Where literally they can pretty much make up a reason to fire you if they want you out.

    It certainly is a grey area though, considering premises are operating on a vaccine cert being presented upon entry. It Hardly will work if employees at said places won't get the vaccine. I think there will be roadblock after roadblock put up for employees without the vaccine, that is, they may have to present proof they are not infected every week. Wearing people down until they lost patience and just get the vaccine so they can get on with their lives.

  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 60,486 Mod ✭✭✭✭ L1011

    In Georgia, where this likely happened, they have the right to fire anyone for anything more or less. "At will employment"

  • Registered Users Posts: 362 ✭✭ glen123

  • Registered Users Posts: 68,333 ✭✭✭✭ seamus

    The United States is a different kettle of fish. Employees are little more than slaves to capitalism, in many cases they can be fired without reason and without notice.

    Employees in Ireland cannot be fired for refusing a vaccination. But that doesn't mean employers can't do anything about it. Think of vaccination a bit like being certified to operate a piece of machinery.

    If your role now requires - either legally or otherwise - that you are certified to operate the piece of machinery, then company can insist that you get the certificate and keep it up to date. If you refuse to get certified or to keep that certificate up to date, then they can choose to either relocate you to another role where the cert is not required, or they can make you redundant. They do not have to create a new role for you - if there are no roles available, they can make you redundant and hire someone else to fill your spot.

    The same would apply here with vaccination. The company would need to show good reason why vaccination is now necessary, but ultimately if you refuse to get vaccinated and there is no role by which you can continue to be employed, then they can let you go.

    Just because it may be possible to work from home, doesn't oblige the company to convert your role to a 100% remote one. The company justification in these cases will always be that it is a necessary part of the role to meet with colleagues face-to-face on a regular basis and therefore the role cannot be made 100% remote.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 14,122 ✭✭✭✭ Donald Trump

    If an employee started **** in the office they would be fired for **** and not because they are a wanker.

    And don't be expecting the Union to back you up on it. Bastards take my dues for years and then the one time you need them ..........

    (Strange how the swear filter blocks out the -ing but not the -er version!)

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,546 ✭✭✭ Blaaz_

    If your job requires you to be vaccinated to do (public facing),they probably can id say

    People who can entirely work from home it seems harsh beyond belief,

  • Registered Users Posts: 599 ✭✭✭ Citrus_8

    Not America, but particularly USA. There are mire countries in both Americas, and each of them may have slightly different legal approaches. Need to be more specific as America is not even a country's name.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 5,710 ✭✭✭ growleaves

    Unless the law is changed your employer cannot ask you if you've been vaccinated. See the link shared by glen123. Legal experts and the Data Protection Commissioner have said so.

    Most of the answers on this thread are pure wrong. I think people here are just saying what they would like to see happen.

    If the laws are changed, which they could be, then yeah. But right now? No.

  • Registered Users Posts: 19,129 ✭✭✭✭ Strumms

    Your terms of employment are your contract...

    i don’t think any company foresaw even the slightest chance of a pandemic so there wouldn’t be a vaccine clause but I’d say most contracts have.... “ you are forbidden from participating in behaviors likely or possibly that could cause a risk to the health of colleagues, contractors or customers “... it could be dependent on how that is understood or interpreted.

  • Registered Users Posts: 686 ✭✭✭ Timistry

    In Ireland, no! Even to ask is a GDPR issue

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,291 ✭✭✭ donaghs

    I would imagine in most places, unless they are a waste of space, management would prefer to ask them what they were thinking, and issue a warning if they are apologetic.

    It may look to Irish eyes that this CNN story promotes vaccine uptake. But given the devisive nature of US politics, I don’t think it helps at all. E.g. all the silly arguments over masks in the US. Especially given CNNs more political stance in recent years, aping Fox News from a Democrat perspective.

    Post edited by donaghs on

  • Registered Users Posts: 497 ✭✭ Kerry25x

    I work in healthcare, they do ask and are redeploying unvaccinated staff away from high risk patients.

  • Registered Users Posts: 15,759 ✭✭✭✭ klaz

    For the US, and it's culture of suing for just about anything, the measure makes sense, when considering insurance, and claims that might be made for being required to work in an unsafe workplace environment. While vaccines don't guarantee anything, they do lower the risk, and show that the business has sought to have a safe environment for employees. It won't be long before companies are sued for an employee getting covid from a fellow employee. The requirement on employees being vaccinated mitigates this risk.

    As for remote working, it's just not practical for many jobs out there. And even when it is, it also brings a host of other problems. I've heard from friends who are managers in a variety of companies complaining about the drop in productivity, and quality of work by workers at home. Sure, some people are perfectly capable of working properly at home, especially in the short term, but as time goes by, laziness and other distractions kick in. For some industries/roles, working from home will continue, but I'm expecting alot of other businesses to require their staff to return to working from a premises where they can be managed directly.. along with the requirement that people be vaccinated.

    This is the new reality. Anyone refusing to be vaccinated is going to face greater (as time goes by) consequences for their refusal.. and they have only themselves to blame for it. Just as we're all going to be facing the need to boost our vaccines to deal with new strains or other considerations that arise over the next decade. Just accept it and move on.

    "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle 

  • Registered Users Posts: 14,239 ✭✭✭✭ banie01

    In the US employment law is quite fragmented.

    In some states, the Employer can mandate vaccines in others the employer cannot. The idea of job security and employment rights that are common in Ireland and the EU are tbh, alien in much of the US.

    Immediate dismissal, minimal paid vacation, zero benefits and worse are common over there.

    A good baseline of the US situation is here;

    "If an employee refuses to obtain a vaccine, an employer needs to evaluate the risk that objection poses, particularly if an employer is mandating that employees receive a COVID-19 vaccine," Lomax said.

    A vaccination mandate should be job-related and consistent with business necessity. Under the ADA, an employer can have a workplace policy that includes "a requirement that an individual shall not pose a direct threat to the health or safety of individuals in the workplace."

    If a vaccination requirement screens out a worker with a disability, however, the employer must show that unvaccinated employees would pose such a threat. The EEOC defines a "direct threat" as a "significant risk of substantial harm that cannot be eliminated or reduced by reasonable accommodation."

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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,852 ✭✭✭ BailMeOut

    If there was a 'zero-tolerance policy' to smoking in the office you'd be fired.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,102 ✭✭✭ chrissb8

    Seriously? You replied, to correct a colloquialism?


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,985 ✭✭✭ mcmoustache

    How? GDPR relates to minimising the amount of data collected about a data subject to what is necessary and only as long as necessary as well as using that data only for the purposes that it was intended. There are other issues, sure, but I don't see how GDPR comes into play any more than that nonsense going around the US about asking being a HIPAA violation.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,362 ✭✭✭ FishOnABike

  • Registered Users Posts: 362 ✭✭ glen123

    "It's never been a requirement that employees or people have to tell their employers private medical information, and you'd want to have a really strong overwhelming public health case for that to change," Mr Varadkar said.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,253 ✭✭✭ Risteard81

    As this is not a recognised or licenced vaccine - but merely an emergency use only intervention - it absolutely would be completely and utterly illegal (and rightly so) to fire someone for declining to take it for any reason or none. Even if it was ever licensed it would still amount to further totalitarianisma and be completely and utterly criminal and indefensible.

  • Registered Users Posts: 15,759 ✭✭✭✭ klaz

    Of course it's defensible. Whether they'd succeed in defending it is another matter, and until we have such cases happen, there's little evidence to say one way or the other. If employees are notified in advance that the vaccine is mandatory for their continued employment, and given time to find alternative employment, then I suspect employers would get away with it. If it was done in a fair and open manner.

    Anti-vaccine people are going to find themselves treated the same as smokers have been. Public opinion is not going to continue being sympathetic for those who refuse the vaccine, because they're easy scapegoats for the failures of the vaccines themselves, and just as easily, made into being unreasonable on/by the media. Perhaps we'll see regulations to ensure that those without vaccines aren't allowed within a few metres of certain buildings.. After all, there are many places where smokers aren't allowed to smoke. The health risk to the majority means that non-vaccinated people (as a minority) will be pushed outwards.

    "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle 

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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,253 ✭✭✭ Risteard81

    Rubbish. It's a CONDITIONAL Marketing Authorisation. They are not licensed.