With the flu season in full swing, many employers are promoting optional seasonal flu vaccines to ward off the spread of illness in the workplace. But one hospital in Pennsylvania recently learned that its mandatory seasonal flu vaccine requirement for employees violated federal religious discrimination laws. And now, the hospital has been ordered to pay up.
As an employee of faith, it can be difficult to navigate your religious rights at work. This is especially true if a religious holiday or observance isn't heavily commercialized or mainstream like Hanukkah or Christmas. While employers are legally obligated to at least try to offer religious accommodation, you may still be hesitant to ask your boss for time off for religious reasons. But you don't have to be fearful. Both federal and California employment laws protect workers from discrimination due to religion. And if you work in California, state law actually offers much stronger employee protections than federal law.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) endeavor to prevent workplace discrimination.