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Fort Smith/Fayetteville News | 5newsonline KFSM 5NEWS | Get the local news and weather where you live from 5NEWS. Covering Fort Smith, Fayetteville, Bentonville, and all of Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley.

Can you lose your job for refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

If your employer requires you to get the COVID-19 vaccine you could be at risk of losing your job if you don't classify with several exceptions.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark — There has been a lot of talk about if people will be required by their employers to get the COVID-19 vaccine once it’s available to the public. 

“It is not a yes or no question. I think it’s safe to say that there are certain legal hurdles that will have to be cleared,” attorney Stephen Smith said. 

Smith says those legal hurdles that could protect someone from not being required by an employer to get the vaccine are the Americans with Disabilities Act, Civil Rights Act and Religious beliefs. He says if an employee has one of those exceptions then the employer has to evaluate the risk of giving that employee an exemption. 

“By that I mean does giving that employee exemption pose a direct threat to others in the workplace,” Smith said. 

If they do find it is a risk, then they have to try and accommodate that person like having them work remotely. 

Smith says if there can’t be a way to accommodate the employee then that’s when letting the person go would be an option. 

President of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, Randy Zook says he would be surprised if many employers require the vaccine and thinks getting people to get the vaccine won’t be much of an issue by the time it’s available for most. 

“As more and more people get the vaccination and people realize that it’s not a big deal, there may be a little bit of discomfort for a few people but by in large nearly everybody is going to take the vaccination,” Zook said. 

In January, the State Chamber will be holding a webinar to discuss companies and navigating the COVID-19 vaccine. An exact date hasn’t been set just yet.

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