Flu shot vs. keeping a job?

Alanda Watson and her co-workers are standing up. 

"I was taught to stand up for what I believe in, or fall for anything," said Watson, an employee at Lutheran Social Ministries of New Jersey in Burlington.  "And I can't fall for putting something into my body that I don't believe in."

Watson is referring to flu shots that were once optional for employees at Lutheran Social Ministries of NJ, but now mandatory. 

Those who opt out of the shot are required by company policy to wear workplace surgical masks at the company’s headquarters where  there are no health care services taking place, which Watson and co-workers Megan Duncan and Denise Mercurius refuse to do.

As a result, they've been suspended from their jobs for a week without pay.

"I don't believe that any employer should be able to request your medical beliefs, your secular beliefs, anything like that, or tell you to put anything in your body," says Duncan, who add that "it's more of making a stand for what's right, or what's wrong, in this case."

Watson agrees. "I've already considered wearing a mask and don't think I'll change where I stand or how I feel," said Watson, who's worked at Lutheran for more than five years.  "So ... do I think I'll lose my job?  Yeah, I do."

A spokeswoman for Lutheran Social Ministries, Ruth Lewis, said the company is standing by its policy.

“We are trying to put in to policies that will prevent transmission of the flu as best we can for the people that we serve. That when you come in and you work with us that we’ll provide an environment that has protection,” Lewis said.

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