When "not mandatory" still means compulsory

Sep 28 2009 by Derek Torres Print This Article

If you're reading this, odds are good that you live in a location already affected to some extent by H1N1, or as we like to say in French, "grippe porcine" (sorry, it sounds better than "swine flu").

To be honest, I'm having a hard time telling where the hysteria stops and the epidemic begins; with all the media coverage concerning the outbreak, the treatment, the vaccine, there's a lot to process. I just knew that I'd be seeing stories like this, and indeed they came.

The story in question is about a woman who is fired from her job from for refusing a mandatory vaccination.

Now, let's not get into the issue of whether or not the vaccination is a fine or horrible idea; most people seem to have their opinions and my goal isn't to change minds. The issue for me is whether or not an employer can use at-will employment or hide behind a state directive to enforce rules.

What we do know is that the American president has vowed that H1N1 vaccinations would not be mandatory. This is presumably directive. However, in this case, the state of New York overrode President Obama's pledge and made it mandatory for certain groups of people in NY state.

The article in question brings up some excelleng questions whether or not such vaccinations were listed as conditions of employment in her work contract. It's also distrubing that the employee didn't have any right of appeal or period of reflection before dismissal.

I suppose some will liken this to another health issue when cigarettes were banned as a mandatory measure for public places and most office buildings. However, we're talking about seperate issues; cigaretts are know to be nothing good in terms of health. Vaccinations, especially the H1N1, does not yet have a known efficacy.

That reasoning not likely to be followed, we're likely to see and read about manny more cases such as this. In light of the hysteria surrounding this, let's hope cooler heads prevail.