Kansas City employment lawyer busy fielding calls from people about vaccine mandates – KMBC Kansas City


Several Kansas City hospitals, companies now requiring employees to be fully vaccinated
Several Kansas City hospitals, companies now requiring employees to be fully vaccinated
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Several Kansas City hospitals, companies now requiring employees to be fully vaccinated
Several Kansas City employers are now requiring their workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19. All this has made employment lawyers very popular.
Vaccine mandates are already underway at Children’s Mercy Hospital, The University of Kansas Health System, and University Health, formerly Truman Medical Center.
Just last week, Cerner Corporation announced a vaccine mandate for its employees.
“Our COVID taskforce informed associates that all U.S.-based associates will be required to by fully vaccinated as of Dec. 8, 2021,” said Cerner representative Stephanie Greenwood in an email to KMBC. “In addition, we’re extending our re-entry date to Jan. 10, 2022.”
Burns and McDonnell released a statement from chief administrative officer Renita Mollman to KMBC on Thursday, saying “We are currently developing a plan in order to follow the regulations introduced in President Biden’s COVID-19 Action Plan. We will take time to fully evaluate the order prior to issuing any final decisions for our employee-owners. We remain committed to providing educational resources about the vaccine to our employees and have offered vaccination clinics at our Kansas City offices to help employees easily obtain vaccines.”
Lawyer John Ziegelmeyer estimated that roughly 40% of the calls he gets these days are about vaccine mandates.

“Definitely, a lot of calls.” he said, “from folks being told they have 60 days to be vaccinated or face potential termination.”
Almost all the callers are asking the same questions.
“Is it legal? Do I have to do this? I don’t want to do this. How do I not do this?” Ziegelmeyer said.
He does not have a clear-cut answer for them yet.
“This is so new for everyone, there is no real playbook. Everyone’s just trying to figure this out as we go,” he said.
University Health quickly figured out its play.
“We thought this was important,” said Charlie Shields, University Health’s president and CEO. “Not only to send the right message as an academic medical center that we believe in the science but also to ensure our patients that they’d be safe when they came (here).”
Children’s Mercy Hospital also made the call.
“Yes, we have a vaccine mandate at our hospital, and we are working towards that with all our employees, some of which are already vaccinated and now getting their booster vaccines. And some of which are still considering their vaccine options,” said Dr. Angela Myers, division director of infectious disease for the health system
Options being the key word.
“Because ultimately, it’s going to be their choice,” Ziegelmeyer said. “They don’t have to be vaccinated to be employed. But they might have to be vaccinated to be employed at that particular place.”
That is ultimately a choice each person and employer will have to make.
“They don’t have to be vaccinated to be employed,” he said. “But they might have to be vaccinated to be employed at that particular place.”
If an employee wants to try to keep his or her job and get an exemption, “essentially you have two avenues,” Ziegelmeyer said.
The first, he said, is a medical exemption, “where a doctor says you cannot have a vaccine because of different medical reasons.”
The second is a religious exemption.
“A lot of people are calling us saying, ‘I want to have a religious exemption because I don’t want to get the vaccine.’ That seems OK on its face,” Zigelmeyer said. “But to get a religious exemption, you have to show that the law will recognize this request, in this case, not getting the vaccine is a sincerely held religious belief, is not only followed by this individual person not wanting to get a vaccination, but a religion as a whole.”
He added, “It’s not necessarily your views, it’s got to be coupled with this religion that you follow.”
Ziegelmeyer said an employer could then begin to ask prying questions.
“It would allow an employer to essentially ask more questions, potentially speak to the institution,” he said. “That might include, ‘Have you been vaccinated before? Did you go to elementary school? You were probably vaccinated. Did you go to middle school? You were probably vaccinated. Did you go to university? You were probably vaccinated.'”
He said an employer could take it further, “Where does the employee worship? How often does he or she pray? Does the employee tithe? How much time does the employee devote to his or her deeply held beliefs?”
Then, Ziegelmeyer said, “They’re required to make a reasonable accommodation – in this case, not allow you not to get the vaccination — if it can be done with minimal cost and without undue hardship.”
He stated an employer may be willing to accommodate an employee with a daily negative COVID-19 test.
Ziegelmeyer said employers don’t have to do anything that would cause undue hardship.
“Undue hardship might be anything that might affect the business. Affecting the business might mean they may feel that not getting the vaccine puts other folks at risk. Even if you get this past the very good, difficult hurdle of sincerely held religious belief, as it relates to getting vaccinated, then the company still can say we are not going to grant you this accommodation because it puts everyone else at risk because you’re not vaccinated,” he said.
Ziegelmeyer said the calls he receives are preemptive. No one who has contacted him has been fired for not getting a vaccine.
“There’s no real case for discrimination, necessarily, until you’ve been discriminated against,” Zigelmeyer said.
He pointed out that being unvaccinated is not a protected category of discrimination.
“It’s not based on race, religion, national origin, sex, or gender,” Ziegelmeyer said.
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