By Conduit For Action
Some employers are mandating COVID-19 vaccinations as a condition for continued employment. In the meantime, they are also imposing restrictions on their unvaccinated workers. The mandates and restrictions are being done under the guise of protecting vaccinated workers, but the oppressive restrictions on unvaccinated workers and the absence of similar restrictions on vaccinated workers does not make sense. It is employer discrimination and retribution.
This is not about whether it is generally a good thing to take the vaccine. It is about the flawed requirements that are being imposed by some employers.
Before we get into why the restrictions are not based on the health of workers, we need to address a misperception of workers who are trying to avoid the vaccines. Many people think of them as crazy antivaxxers who won’t even take a simple jab but that is not accurate characterization.
Some unvaccinated workers are entitled to a valid medical or religious exemption. Some remain unvaccinated prior to their employer’s deadline because they are aware some side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines can be debilitating. Some know they have a natural resistance to infection from having had the virus.
Conduit has heard from many of these workers as they reach out to anyone who will listen. For the most part, the workers who have contacted us are trained medical professionals – doctors and nurses. Some are aware of patients who suffered severe side effects from the vaccine. One told us she tried to comply with the mandate but because of a harsh reaction to the first shot she didn’t take the second shot and was fired. One doctor who previously had COVID-19 was not only aware of research indicating natural antibodies to be as good or better than the vaccine, he also had the results of his antibody test which showed he had a high level of protection.
And then there are women who are pregnant or who are of childbearing age and have judged the unknown risk from this vaccine to an unborn child to be her most important factor.
These people are not the crazy ignorant antivaxxer stereotype the liberal media wants you to think they are.
These professionals are being singled out with oppressive measures even though a vaccinated coworker may pose just as much of a risk of spreading the virus. Before we explain why it is retribution and not science, let’s talk a bit about the requirements and restrictions commonly being put on unvaccinated workers.
COMMON REQUIREMENTS AND RESTRICTIONS
THE TEST. Let’s start with the weekly COVID-19 test. The test can be uncomfortable or even painful as the technician jabs a stick with a swab on it up your nose. If you have had the test and were lucky, you had little or no discomfort. If you were unlucky, it felt like someone poked your brain with a stick and it was sore for days. To complicate matters further, one employer is requiring the test to be performed on the same day of the week each week at the same location despite the employee being assigned to various other locations on the testing day.
PROHIBITED AREAS. Another common restriction is the exclusion of unvaccinated workers from common areas. Bring a lunch to work that doesn’t have to be heated or refrigerated because you can’t go to the break room where the microwave and refrigerator are located. In addition, you are prohibited from leaving the building to get lunch elsewhere. Your coworkers gather to celebrate a team member… you can’t go and if you were supposed to be the honoree it’s not happening. The employer wants the unvaccinated to be treated as if they were the unclean and unacceptable.
A doctor told us unvaccinated doctors in his hospital who are on call are not allowed to go take a nap because they are no longer allowed in the sleeping area. Leaving the building to sleep in the doctor’s own car is not an option either because the doctor must be near his patients.
N95 MASK AND OTHER PPE. At least one hospital is requiring unvaccinated employees to always wear a mask and other protective gear and the employee is not allowed to take off the mask even to eat or drink. Need a drink of water or to eat something, then you must go to a designated area outside in the heat or cold or rain or snow. But completely leaving the facility is not a viable option because the employee must completely re-gown upon reentering.
WHY IT IS RETRIBUTION NOT SCIENCE
UNVACCINATED DOES NOT MEAN UNPROTECTED. Some unvaccinated workers who have had COVID-19 in the past have as good or better resistance to the COVID-19 virus than their vaccinated coworkers. Some studies have indicated natural immunity to be superior.[i] As we mentioned, some professionals are able to show their level of protection from having taken an antibody test, yet all unvaccinated workers are treated like pariahs regardless of whether they are protected by natural antibodies or not.
VACCINATED PEOPLE CAN GET AND SPREAD THE VIRUS. Vaccinated people can get the virus and yes some fully vaccinated people have died from COVID-19.
At first such cases among the vaccinated were called breakthrough exceptions but as more vaccinated people have become infected the talk seems to have switched to talking about vaccines giving you a better percentage of not getting the virus or being more likely to have a mild case. Then we began hearing about variants, like the Delta variant, causing more infections among vaccinated people. When employers come up with policies to “protect the vaccinated from the unvaccinated” by implication they are acknowledging fully vaccinated people may get the virus. “Fully vaccinated” does not mean immune.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the Cleveland Clinic and numerous others, vaccinated people who get COVID-19 can transmit the virus to other people.[ii] Even when a scientist says a vaccinated person is less likely to transmit the virus, the statement acknowledges vaccinated people can transmit the virus.
Although vaccinated workers can get the virus and can pose a risk to coworkers, they have been exempted from the employer’s health restrictions.
WORKERS WITH GREATER PUBLIC CONTACT. Since vaccinated people can get and spread the virus, a vaccinated worker who has continual contact with the public, vendors, and others may pose a greater risk to coworkers than an unvaccinated coworker who has little personal contact with anyone outside his office. Then add in the possibility that the vaccinated worker may have a large family or have an active social life that brings him out among the public more than other employees.
VACCINATED MAY HAVE MILDER SYMPTOMS BUT. Some say vaccinated people who become infected may have milder symptoms. That is good news for them, but mild symptoms may also mean they are in the workplace not knowing they are spreading the virus.
EMPLOYER EXCEPTIONS. Some employers have come to realize they have some classes of workers who are unlikely to comply and the wholesale termination of the workers would disrupt the company. So, some have made exceptions. In the medical field some have made exception to the vaccine mandate for private physicians and traveling nurses. Some big companies have made exceptions for classes of workers such as truckers. While such exceptions may be necessary it undermines the employer’s argument that their vaccine mandates and restrictions on unvaccinated workers is about health.
The workers we have talked to are not crazy conspiracy theorists. By and large they are hardworking knowledgeable people, some with natural immunity, some with valid medical or religious reasons, and some with serious concerns about just the COVID-19 vaccine. The harsh restrictions are being applied to unvaccinated workers even if they have acquired a natural resistance to the virus. Meanwhile vaccinated workers are not subject to the oppressive measures even though they can have the virus and spread it to coworkers. These policies limiting a vaccinated worker’s exposure to a few unvaccinated coworkers is like plugging a hole in the side of the bucket when the entire bottom of the bucket is gone. These restrictions just don’t hold water and are not defensible as being based on worker health.
LAWS TO HELP WORKERS?
Some federal laws on discrimination and unlawful employment practices may apply to help workers who lose their jobs and lawsuits may be in the future of some but fighting a large corporation can be a difficult task. In addition, time is of the essence as lives are disrupted.
Some members of the Arkansas legislature are trying to help workers on the state level. One of several legislators who are trying to help is state Senator Bob Ballinger who tried to get the legislature to address the issue during the recent special session of the legislature but the state Senate wanted to avoid the issue and voted to adjourn without even considering the issue.
Unfortunately, some legislators still don’t want to address the issue right before primary elections and don’t want to offend big money donors who are imposing the vaccine mandates.
The legislature can consider such legislation when it goes back into extended session on September 29 but excuses are flying on why they can’t address the issue or need more time to study the issue. Meanwhile some workers are being fired and others are being discriminated against.
President Biden’s push for a federal mandate has become a distraction with politicians knowing its always safe to complain about the federal government. Don’t let big business mandates go unchallenged. Even if you are vaccinated and would like for everyone to be vaccinated, these workers need and deserve your help. Start by contacting your legislator before September 29.
[ii] https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/covid-19-infection-among-vaccinated-people-what-you-need-to-know/; https://health.clevelandclinic.org/can-vaccinated-people-transmit-covid-19-to-others/