Should I Sign A Vaccine Exemption Form That Concerns Me?

Question: (See the follow-up communication after the response. ) I am in the process of doing my medical and religious exemption forms which were provided by my employers. The statement at the end of each form is causing me grief, as I do not agree with the way it is phrased and that the process described makes the requirements seem innocuous and benign, which they are not. So, regardless if I refuse to sign or not their policies will be exercised.

How do I refuse to sign, based on my disagreements so they understand that I have valid reasons and is not a willful disregard for their policies?

Here is the portion of their statement that I disagree with:
“I further understand that if this exemption is granted, I will comply with all mandatory non-pharmaceutical interventions (including but not limited to face coverings and regular asymptomatic testing) that apply or may in the future apply to non-fully vaccinated workers.

I understand should I fail to comply with any applicable restrictions, that I may be barred from the premises, or subject to discipline, up to and including immediate termination.”

The other issue is given my state is an “At Will” state, so they could do whatever they want to terminate my employment,..so why do they need me to sign this?

Answer:

Hello and thank you for sharing your workplace concern with us. 

The language your organization is using in the document you’ve been asked to sign is crafted in terms that are being used in most other large organizations. It allows you to not be vaccinated but allows the organization to require other ways of preventing the spread of a business-crippling and potentially deadly virus. 

Although it mentions masks and testing there may be other methods developed or decided upon in the future, although I can’t think of a good example right now. That seems to be the unknown about which you are concerned. 

If you are a strong contributor your employers don’t want to dismiss you and also don’t want lawsuits related to punitive actions, so it doesn’t seem you would need to fear some terrible requirement in the future. At least it is a situation you could deal with later and which may never happen.

You do have the option to not work there, or as Doctor Gorden often says, you can “vote with your feet” and leave that company. However, I don’t think you will find anything much different anywhere else, because everyone who has a business to run is trying to minimize losing employees for weeks or months when they become ill or must be quarantined—or don’t come back to work at all. 

You probably will be dismissed if you do not sign the agreement. It is much like the hiring contracts you signed as a new employee–it is a condition of employment there. But it doesn’t appear to be unreasonable given circumstances and it would be a shame to lose a career and a good job over it. If it becomes something you can’t ethically support in the future, you can change your mind then.  

I also suggest that you talk to someone closer to you and your work situation about this. You can discuss your concerns in more detail and may gain insights about it that will be useful as you decide what to do next. 

Best wishes to you. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens.

Tina Lewis Rowe
Ask the Workplace Doctors 

Follow-Up:

Tina, Thank you very much for your reply. Your points were things that I have considered and you are correct, I can change my mind at any time. In the past I had fought to change their TB policy and did. So, in the short term, signing would be a way to placate them and in the long term, I will fight if need be.

I appreciate your quick and thoughtful response. I will keep you posted if there is any interesting developments.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.