Indiana News

Can I get fired for not following vaccine mandate? Indiana law professor says ‘probably so’

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — After President Biden announced a federal vaccine mandate calling for all business with at least 100 employees to require full vaccination or weekly COVID-19 testing, many Indiana businesses and employees are rushing to understand what this means for them.

I-Team 8’s Jasmine Minor spoke with April Sellers, clinical professor at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, about many of these questions.

Minor asked if someone without a religious or medical exemption can be fired for refusing to get the vaccine.

“Probably so,” said Sellers, who spent 16 years as a trial lawyer for businesses and governments. “Could an employer choose to ignore the order? There will be probably a lawsuit trying to stop the order from going into effect.”

Sellers says as long as it’s lawful, federal law overrides state issue. She explained that if someone is fired due to refusing the vaccine, that may not mean they become eligible for unemployment.

“I think that will be up to the State Unemployment Insurance Commission to decide what the rules are going to be about that, and it will probably come down to their decision about whether, for example, how reasonable it was,” says Sellers. “Whether it was truly voluntary or not.”

However, Minor asked if the federal government would be responsible for the extra costs that could come with the vaccine mandate, such as PTO or weekly testing.

“It is the obligation of employers to provide a safe workplace,” explains Sellers. “There are a bunch of details about what that means. But that’s generally what (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) requires … And so employers can get into trouble for trying to nickel and dime every step they take in order to provide a safe workplace.”

You can watch the full interview with Professor Sellers below. App users can go online to see the full interview with this story.