Will Fired Unvaccinated Employees Get Their Jobs Back After SCOTUS Blocks Biden Mandate?

Employees who were terminated from their job because of their refusal to get vaccinated for COVID-19 aren’t guaranteed to get their jobs back just because the Supreme Court struck down President Joe Biden’s vaccine or testing mandate.

The mandate, which required millions of employees to be vaccinated or undergo weekly testing, sparked questions about the legality of terminating employees over their vaccination status. However, in the majority of the United States, businesses can terminate employees for not complying with company policies and that doesn’t necessarily change because of the Supreme Court’s decision.

Dorit Reiss, a University of California Hastings College of Law professor, told Newsweek that unless employees can claim religious discrimination or disability-based discrimination, employers are free to terminate employees for not being vaccinated. Employment in the United States is “at-will” so employers can implement whatever policies they want within the confines of the law and the default is that if employees don’t like the policy, they can find a new job.

Given that private employers can require employees to be vaccinated, Reiss said wrongful termination lawsuits are “unlikely to succeed.”

The Harvard Crimson Year In Review

At Harvard, 2021 was a year marked by change. The school’s long-awaited return to in-person operations injected new life into a campus that had been left dormant for over a year by Covid-19. And in an unexpected shift, the University announced its intention to divest its endowment from fossil fuels after a decade of public pressure. Separately, faculty controversies — including a federal conviction and a high-profile departure — ignited debates that rippled across academia. Below, The Crimson looks back at the 10 stories that shaped the last year at Harvard.

Here Come the Covid Liability Lawsuits

Businesses are doing all they can to keep operating while minimizing the spread of the virus. But some have run into an unexpected obstacle: federal law.

In May, as the first wave of the pandemic receded, Connecticut put out guidelines for workplace reopening. “Individuals over the age of 65 or with other health conditions should not visit offices, but instead continue to stay home and stay safe.”

That seemed like a sound directive, but as lawyers soon pointed out, the state had told its private employers to violate federal law. The federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act makes it unlawful to deprive older employees of any opportunity offered to younger colleagues.

Celebrity Attorney Files First Coronavirus Discrimination Lawsuit

Although L.A. lawyer Lisa Bloom is mainly known for representing people in sexual abuse or discrimination cases, she is now expanding her client base to victims of COVID-19.

Bloom says she is representing the first case of “coronavirus discrimination” in the U.S.

The attorney tells Los Angeles that her client is a male Californian who worked at the front desk of a medical facility where “as the coronavirus pandemic struck several weeks ago, the doctors and nurses were given [personal protective equipment], but the front-desk people were not.”

Despite the front-desk worker’s concerns, he continued checking people in at the facility, until it was discovered that a patient he was exposed to had tested positive for the novel coronavirus. At that point he was sent home, which Bloom says was appropriate. But he was fired the next day, a move she terms “[n]ot appropriate. Illegal.”

Bloom adds, “He was really shocked and upset. I thought this was very disturbing, and I’ve gotten a number of calls like this.”

Initially, Bloom thought it might be a case of discrimination based on a medical condition, but then decided that statute is too narrowly defined to apply to the client’s situation. However, general disability laws are not as exacting.

“Disability is something that affects a major life function, like breathing,” she explained via YouTube this weekend. “And even if that function, like breathing, is only affected for a couple of days, that counts as a disability under California law, and your employer cannot discriminate against you or harass you if you have a disability.”

It turns out the client tested negative for COVID-19, but his employer, still unnamed, gave him the ax just because he was perceived as being infected, Bloom maintains.

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