WASHINGTON — Many DMV residents are going through their local health departments to get vaccinated. However, some essential workers across the metro area are being asked to go through their employers first to secure an appointment.
WUSA9’s Q and A team is taking on your questions.
HAVE A QUESTION? TEXT (202) 895-5599 SO THAT OUR TEAM CAN WORK ON FINDING AN ANSWER.
QUESTION: What happens if your employer drags their feet on getting you vaccinated, but still asks you to come to work?
We went to an expert at the D.C.-based Employment Law Group to get an answer.
ANSWER: “The first thing is to let your employer know right away that you have not gotten an appointment for the vaccine, and then to express in writing what your concerns are,” said Scott Oswald, Managing Principal at the Employment Law Group.
“We have a statute that requires an employer to accommodate an employee to the extent that the employee has a disability. But the key for employees is to make sure that they notify their employers of the disability, and give that employer the opportunity to kind of come up with a workaround.”
Oswald explained it’s critical to be as specific as possible. “Document everything, be clear about what your condition is, and explain what your concern is about going into the workplace without being properly vaccinated.”
Q: What should you do if you explain your concerns and your employer is not accommodating?
A: “Dust off that employee handbook, look up who your human resources manager is," said Oswald. "Make sure that you make your concerns known to human resources. If that fails, then that employee is likely going to have some legal recourse if that employer persists in requiring that employee to show up to the workplace.”
Oswald also advises making sure you have presented your employer with some sort of proof of an underlying condition or a health risk that shows why the vaccine is necessary for your return to work.
“It kind of cuts against the natural inclination — I know for myself, I'm a little reticent to tell somebody about a condition I might suffer from. But in not doing that, we don't trigger the protections of the law,” Oswald shared, making clear that documentation will be important in case you need to seek legal help.