Employers have right to mandate COVID vaccine in Tennessee; legislator vows to keep that from happening

Updated: Dec. 11, 2020 at 10:29 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - In just a matter of days, Mid-Southerners could soon receive the COVID-19 vaccine with priority first given to frontline workers. However, could your employer require you to take the vaccine?

The short answer is yes,” Tennessee Employment attorney Alan Crone said.

Crone says Tennessee, like most states, is an employment at-will state, giving private employers the right to require just about anything as long as it’s not illegal.

Krone said, “There is an Americans with disabilities act which factors into this, so if someone is allergic to the vaccine or otherwise has some medical condition that might impair the major life activity of taking the vaccine, then the employer needs to have an interactive process with that employee to provide a reasonable accommodation.”

According to an Associated Press survey, about a quarter of U.S. adults aren’t sure if they want the vaccine, and one Tennessee legislator wants to pass a law to make sure you don’t have to until you’re ready.

“You know we don’t own much in this world, but one thing we do own or should have possession of and decision-making power over is our own body,” Tennessee State Representative Antonio Parkinson said.

Parkinson says he plans to draft legislation to explicitly state employers can not mandate the COVID-19 vaccine.

Experts say about 70 percent of the population will need to accept the vaccine in order to significantly slow down the spread of the virus.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson urged Arkansans during a primetime address Thursday to take the vaccine once it becomes widely available.

Hutchingson said, “I have confidence in the vaccine, in fact, Susan and I will be taking the vaccine when it is our turn. There will be no government directives to be vaccinated, but that should not be necessary when it is so important to our nation and state.”

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