Being threatened to take the flu shot at work

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Latest post 10-12-2011 9:47 PM by LG81. 13 replies.
  • 10-12-2011 12:38 PM

    • scostira
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    Being threatened to take the flu shot at work

    Ok.. here is my question. I work for a construction company and I do not deal with the public in my position and I was told today that I needed to go and get the flu shot from someone that they brought in to administer it.. I said no thank you and that I do not get the flu shots ever. I was then told that if I do NOT get the shot than they will not pay me for my sick days if I should get the flu BUT if I get the shot and get sick that they will pay me.. the shot have always given me side effects in the past and I just prefer not to get it!!  Well I ended up getting the shot as I felt like I was being threatened to get it.. Is this legal to do and should there been some sort of disclosure to sign or anything? Is this anyway in Hipaa violations? I am just looking for some info that I can not seem to be able to find out on my own with researching it. 

    Thanks! 

  • 10-12-2011 12:42 PM In reply to

    Re: Being threatened to take the flu shot at work

    This has nothing to do with HIPAA (you must not have googled it if you're bringing that up).

    I don't know of any state that an employer isn't free to make lots of things a condition of employment, including a flu shot.  It doesn't so much have to do with your job being one that involves public contact, but simply the fact that, well, you work with other people and they're trying to minimize the extent of lost productivity with a bunch of people being out with the flu.

    If you're a non-exempt worker, they need only pay you for hours work, and I suspect there's no case law or statute prohibiting the employer from saying that if you're out with the flu after refusing to get the shot that they won't pay you for the time off (unless it rises to the level of being an FMLA situation in terms of complications from the flu, assuming the employer is subject to FMLA and you'd otherwise be eligible; at that point, I suspect they'd be out of luck convincing the federal DOL that you weren't entitled to be able to use paid leave to cover the absence).

  • 10-12-2011 12:55 PM In reply to

    Re: Being threatened to take the flu shot at work

    Chancey1:
    at that point, I suspect they'd be out of luck convincing the federal DOL that you weren't entitled to be able to use paid leave to cover the absence).

    No. Under the federal FMLA, the law does not require that the employer pay the employee during FMLA leave. The statute specifically says that FMLA leave is unpaid leave. The employer MAY require or permit that the employee use paid vacation time for it, but the employee is not in a position to demand that the employer give him the paid vacation time for FMLA unless there is an employment contract or collective bargaining agreement that gives the employee that right. In short, the DOL won't do anything about an employer refusing to allow the employee to use paid vacation time for FMLA leave.

  • 10-12-2011 1:06 PM In reply to

    • scostira
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    Re: Being threatened to take the flu shot at work

    I did research it as I posted but did not see anything about it.. someone had told me that they needed to have me sign something and brought up HIPAA.. that is why I brought it up! I am asking a question and do not mean to sound stupid but I do not need snippy remarks back as I was just asking a legit question! I am not considered with the FMLA I am very aware of how that works as I administer that but this is not something that I have dealt with before and that is why I am asking... I am asking if they can legally do that.. threaten you to take the shot. 

  • 10-12-2011 1:14 PM In reply to

    Re: Being threatened to take the flu shot at work

    scostira:
    I am asking if they can legally do that.. threaten you to take the shot.

    I don't see based on what you posted where they threatened you at all.  You had a clear choice.  They made the employer policy clear:  employees who get the flu shot will be paid if they get sick with the flu and those who decline the vaccination will not get paid for time taken off for getting ill with the flu.  You clearly have a choice and were not forced in any way to get vaccinated.  Nor were you threatened with termination or discipline for not being vaccinated. 

    Legally the employer can set any requirements it wants to pay employees time off for being sick (absent FMLA) and if it wants to require flu shots in order to be able to use sick time for the flu, yes it is legal. 

    scostira:
    someone had told me that they needed to have me sign something and brought up HIPAA.

    Whoever brought this up is not familiar with HIPAA.  HIPAA would only come into play if the employer improperly released your medical information under certain circumstances.  It does not come into play here.  What they must be thinking of is getting a consent form for you to sign prior to giving the shot. 

    "That's just my opinion, then again I might be wrong."  Dennis Miller

     

  • 10-12-2011 1:22 PM In reply to

    • scostira
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    Re: Being threatened to take the flu shot at work

    thank you for your response! You spoke about a policy.. you do not have a policy on it.. they do not have a policy manual etc and nothing was in writing about this.. it was verbally told to me. .I thought that my sick days were to be used when I was sick.. not when they felt like letting you use them.. this all just seems wrong to me but I understand what you are saying.

    As far as the HIPAA, that is probably what she is thinking cause she kept asking me if I signed anything..

    thanks again

  • 10-12-2011 3:57 PM In reply to

    Re: Being threatened to take the flu shot at work

    scostira:
    You spoke about a policy.. you do not have a policy on it.. they do not have a policy manual etc and nothing was in writing about this.. it was verbally told to me. .I thought that my sick days were to be used when I was sick.. not when they felt like letting you use them.. this all just seems wrong to me but I understand what you are saying.

    A company policy does not have to be in writing or in a handbook. The boss can make it up as he wishes and tell you about it orally and it's still policy. And the boss can dictate how sick days are administered any way he wants to.

     

    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • 10-12-2011 3:58 PM In reply to

    • scostira
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    Re: Being threatened to take the flu shot at work

    this is the email that I got from the owners secretary about it:

    In order to provide flu shots again this year, we need to have a ballpark estimate of how many people would be interested in receiving it. This service is being offered to you and your spouse AT NO COST to you. The date will be determined later, but will be sometime in the beginning of October. As in years past, the shots will be administered here at the office.

    PLEASE NOTE: If you choose to NOT receive the flu shot and then you get the flu, you will not be paid for your sick time.

     

  • 10-12-2011 4:03 PM In reply to

    • scostira
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    Re: Being threatened to take the flu shot at work

    adjuster jack:
    A company policy does not have to be in writing or in a handbook. The boss can make it up as he wishes and tell you about it orally and it's still policy. And the boss can dictate how sick days are administered any way he wants to.

     

    Honestly I do not think that someone can just make things up as they go and thats make them legal cause he is the boss! there still needs to be some sort of legality to it no? I am sure that they are some sort of laws that protect the employee's to some sort of respect and not everything is towards the owners! that is what I am asking.. what laws are there to protect the employees from a boss that makes rules up as he goes that could harm the employee and then make threats (that is what I call it!!) to make you do something that you do not want to do!

  • 10-12-2011 4:11 PM In reply to

    Re: Being threatened to take the flu shot at work

    I can't think of any legal reason why an employer can't refuse to provide paid sick days to any employee who refuses to get a flu shot and then gets the flu.  Employers aren't required to provide paid sick days in the first place so the employer gets to set the rules of the road for those.

    That said, flu shots aren't for everyone.  Anyone who is allergic to eggs shouldn't be immunized (the vaccine is grown in chicken eggs) or who has a history of Guillain-Barre syndrome.  Some employees may legitimately object on religious grounds - Christian Scientists for instance.

    Scostira, it's too late now but if this issue rolls around next year prior to flu season, I suggest you see your doctor and get a note stating you should not be immunized against the flu as you have adverse side effects.  Whether that will satisfy your employer is up to them.

  • 10-12-2011 4:13 PM In reply to

    Re: Being threatened to take the flu shot at work

    what laws are there to protect the employees from a boss that makes rules up as he goes that could harm the employee and then make threats (that is what I call it!!) to make you do something that you do not want to do!

    There are laws (or public policies) that prohibit the boss from requiring you to do something that is patently unsafe or that is illegal.  Most of what you are referring to though is completely legal and the boss may make the rules up as he goes along.  The flip side of that is that you have the right to find another job more to your liking and quit this one whenever you wish to.

  • 10-12-2011 4:23 PM In reply to

    • scostira
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    Re: Being threatened to take the flu shot at work

    Thanks Beth!! I understand what you are saying... I wish that the person that was doing the giving the shot would have asked if I / we are allergic to eggs etc but she said nothing at all... they just got our DOB and address and stuck us.. lol I feel that they should have given out some sort of pamplets to explain the shot, side effects etc and asked if we are allergic before giving us the shot.. I know its to late now but they just started this this year about not wanting to pay so I am getting my duckies in a row for next year! LOL  

  • 10-12-2011 4:43 PM In reply to

    • Drew
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    Re: Being threatened to take the flu shot at work

    Religion?

    We passed laws in PA starting  about a century ago when folks died like flies in places like Philadelphia, OK not quite like flies but by a few thousand a day, that required various shots and tests especially for children in schools --then we allowed anyone to opt out by any sort of claim as to "religion"    How would you like to work or send your kid to school (attendance required)  not knowing if the person next to them is a carrier of some new even deadlier form  of TB. And btw, flu manages to kill a few thousand folks each year too. In contrast, my friend had great trouble to even get in China because he had a spot on his lungs!

    I see the point as to personal freedoms -but I applaud employers attempt to provide for a healthier work place at no extra cost to employee and w/o some government mandate.

    Some of this stuff is a tough balance.



  • 10-12-2011 9:47 PM In reply to

    • LG81
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    Re: Being threatened to take the flu shot at work

    scostira:

    PLEASE NOTE: If you choose to NOT receive the flu shot and then you get the flu, you will not be paid for your sick time.

    This is perfectly legal, and I have seen this practice in a few companies.  You were free to decline the flu shot with only the risk of not getting paid for sick days if you contracted a flu.  That is legal.  Even if you had declined based on some sort of religious or health reason, it would still be legal for the employer to keep the non-pay policy for those who get the flu and did not get vaccinated.  It's a personal choice as to what you wanted to do.

    There is absolutely no HIPAA violation here either.

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