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Don’t want to vaccinate or mask up at work or school? You might not have a choice

Coronavirus

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WDAF) – You don’t have to spend much time on social media to realize there’s a lot of bad information being peddled regarding how vaccine and mask mandates are an assault on your civil rights.

To clear up the confusion, WDAF-TV went to Katherine Myers, an attorney who specials in civil rights and employment law.

Myers said a lot of people mistakenly believe their personal freedom trumps any mask and vaccine requirements.

“If your employer says, ‘I want everyone to be vaccinated and everyone to wear a mask,’ as an employee you don’t have many rights to say no,” said Myers, who practices in Kansas City.

One exception that might allow you to evade the mandates would be a medical condition, but you better be prepared to back up any medical claim you make.

“You are more than likely going to have to get verification from your doctor,” Myers said. “Potentially your employer can also send you to their doctor to evaluate the situation.”

A religious exemption also exists, but you can’t simply claim to belong to a certain religious group. You’ll have to provide evidence that this is a sincerely held religious belief you hold and it prevents you from getting a vaccination.

Myers, however, was unaware of any religion that someone could effectively use to avoid having to wear a mask.

Even if you qualify for an exemption, you still might be putting your job at risk.

“The question becomes: Can the employer accommodate you? And in certain settings, they may not be able to,” Myers said.

For example, if you have a job where in-person contact with coworkers or clients is required, but you decline to be vaccinated or wear a mask, it’s possible your employer might not have any other option than to let you go. But if you believe there were other options, don’t hesitate to contact an attorney for help.

Can schools require children to be vaccinated even if their parents don’t want them to be? Myers said the answer in most cases is “yes.”

“I still think it’s going to be acceptable for the schools to mandate the vaccine just like they do for any other vaccine,” Myers said.

Lets face it, school-mandated vaccines are not new. Schools have been requiring them for decades.

Finally, avoid claiming HIPAA if you refuse to answer questions regarding your vaccination status.

“There’s no HIPAA protection,” Myers said. “I’ve heard that a lot, but that’s not a thing.”

HIPAA, a federal healthcare privacy act, typically applies only to the medical profession, including doctors and hospitals. HIPAA is designed to protect your medical information from being shared by medical professionals without your consent.

HIPAA does not prevent your boss from asking you if you’ve been vaccinated.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s website has a lot of good information regarding your legal rights under COVID. Please check out the facts before putting your job at risk by claiming a right that doesn’t exist.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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