One of the biggest stories of the past week has been the Disneyland measles outbreak, where at least 50 people in the United States and Mexico acquired measles, with the outbreak originating out of the California theme park.
The story is controversial because measles is a preventable disease: in 2000, the disease was declared eliminated from the United States, thanks largely to the measles vaccine. However, there has since been a push by select parents to refuse to vaccinate their children, which has allowed the measles to start spreading again.
In response to the outbreak, Disney offered up free vaccinations to any of its employees who weren’t already vaccinated. What’s interesting, though, is that they didn’t force their employees to get vaccinated, but instead just strongly encouraged it.
Why wouldn’t Disney require their employees – particularly their employees who interact with children – to be vaccinated? Well, because they can’t.
Yes, employers can make rules that all of their employees have to be vaccinated. But there are many exceptions to those rules and, by installing such a policy, the company is opening itself up to lawsuits.
A few states, including New York and Maryland, have laws that require healthcare workers to be vaccinated. But the vast majority of states do not, and even laws like the ones in Maryland and New York are subject to exceptions.
Those laws just regard healthcare professionals, though. If a company like Disney demanded all of its park workers be vaccinated, for example, they would open themselves up to lawsuits alleging discrimination or an invasion of privacy, Veena Iyer, a Minnesota-based employment attorney, told The Wall Street Journal.
“Employers should weigh the risks of mandating vaccinations or even asking about them before proceeding,” Audrey Mross, an employment-law attorney with Munck Wilson Mandala in Dallas, told The Columbus Dispatch.
Mross went on to say that employees are protected under the Americans With Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination on medical grounds in the workplace, and could sue an employer for requiring vaccinations under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, alleging that their religious rights are being infringed upon.
Meanwhile, the arguments against vaccinations – they cause autism, they aren’t necessary anymore, etc. – have been proven false time and time again.
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