Pa. Pregnant Nurse Fired For Declining Flu Shot

Can an employer legally fire a pregnant employee for refusing to get a flu shot? That question could get an airing in Pennsylvania where a female registered nurse was recently fired by her employer because she refused a flu shot. The reason she gave was that she had had two miscarriages and didn’t want to risk a third one, fearing the shot is not safe enough for pregnant women.

The employer, Horizons Healthcare Services, located in central Pennsylvania, argues that it would be unconscionable for a health care worker not to be immunized.

From news accounts, the nurse is not interested in taking legal action against the employer.

But if she were interested, what legal route would she have? If she was an employee at will, probably none, unless she wants to argue that firing her was a violation of public policy because to do as the employer wanted would have exposed her fetus to an unacceptable risk.

I’ve written previously on employer policies requiring employees to get flu shots.  In Rhode Island, it’s the law that all health care workers be immunized from the flu.

On the other hand, a bill was introduced in the Wisconsin legislature to prohibit employers from forcing employees to get flu vaccines.

Near as I can tell, that bill is still pending in that body.

If anyone knows its status, or whether other states have enacted laws on mandatory flu vaccines, please leave me a comment.

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