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Lawsuit claims mandate requiring vaccination violates due process

A huge number of employment law claims in Kansas and Missouri -- or any other state for that matter -- are brought based on allegations that a co-worker, supervisor or business owner has committed an action or failed to correct an action against an employee that violates state or federal law. The truth is that there are times in which the law itself is the problem.

In the healthcare community the "flu" has created issues, some of which are hard to answer and states are trying to figure out just how to address the issue. One state's recent mandate has employees within its boundaries claiming that state officials have crossed the line.

The controversy over the flu is a sensitive controversy. The somewhat common illness has recently taken the lives of several people across the country. It is safe to say that no one wants this result, but the controversy lies in the solution to the problem and the influenza vaccine is at the center of it all. Relying on some studies that show the vaccine helps, the Rhode Island Department of Health issued a mandate that requires all healthcare employees to get the vaccine. The thought: that the vaccine will help prevent the spread of the flu in a place where they believe there is a high risk as healthcare facilities are the place where treatment is sought.

While the concept is good, several employees have filed a lawsuit in the state claiming that the mandate forcing them to get the vaccine or wear a mask at all times violates their due process rights. Part of their issue is that there is also a basis for the claim that the medical evidence is insufficient to show that the vaccine even provides the protection sought. There are claims that the vaccine may do little to protect the individual as it only covers a portion of the rapidly diverse strains of the flu, but that it does little to then prevent the spread.

For some in the lawsuit it isn't even that the medical evidence is lacking or that they don't want the vaccine at all, but the mandate forcing it to happen isn't the right way to go. Some say that it could have been accomplished in a much less invasive way through education and encouragement for hospitals to provide their own policy.

The department of health has asked the courts to drop the lawsuit. No ruling has yet been made, but it highlights the important fact that some laws with good intent can violate an individual's rights. Thankfully, our system of checks and balances provides recourse to those who must live under these laws.

Source: American Medical News, "First state flu shot mandate at center of legal battle," Alicia Gallegos, Jan. 14, 2013

Our Kansas City Employment Law firm not only helps protect employees from the actions of their immediate employers, but protection of all constitutional rights, including due process rights that were violated.

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