"Well, blow me down. Wimpy inspires a UK
fast food chain,
and all I get is this crappy can. Why I oughta..."
In anticipation of the current flu season, you decided to
mandate that all employees get immunized. The problem is that one of your
employees, a vegan, who won't ingest any animal or animal by-products --
especially not the microwaveable scrapple-wrapped tripe pops I keep in the
lunchroom freezer -- refuses to get a flu shot because it's against her
religious and philosophical beliefs.
What's her religion, you ask? Why veganism, of course.
WTH?!? Surely, you have no obligation to accommodate this
"religion." In fact, you suddenly have the urge to brush her teeth
with my frozen pops.
*** Ducks cauliflower ***
Well, guess what, carnivore? If you fire the employee for
not getting the shot, you may have a religious-discrimination claim on your
So says an Ohio federal court in this recent
decision [an enhanced version of this opinion is available to lexis.com subscribers].
Indeed, an employer must accommodate an employee's sincerely-held
religious belief, unless doing so would pose an undue hardship to the employer.
When considering whether veganism qualifies, the Ohio court emphasized that
"whether or not a practice or belief is religious is not an issue. .
.religious practices . . . include moral or ethical beliefs as to what is right
and wrong which are sincerely held with the strength of religious views."
Plus, it didn't hurt that the plaintiff quoted the scripture when requesting a flu-shot
accommodation from her employer.
*** And I plan to quote Biggie Smalls at
compensation time ***
Ultimately, the court accepted that an employee may
subscribe to veganism with a sincerity equating that of traditional religious
views. Consequently, a vegan can avoid an otherwise mandated flu shot, unless
it would post an undue hardship to the employee. But I'm thinking a surgical
mask could solve that problem.
Now, if you'll excuse me, somebody has a craving for
Me, that somebody is me.
This article was originally published on Eric B. Meyer's blog,
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