A number of Oklahoma hospitals including OU Medical, SSM, and Mercy have announced that they will mandate the Covid-19 vaccine for all employees, including those who have no patient contact. In Oklahoma, the vaccine exemption process that is codified in Oklahoma law ONLY applies to public school children. This means that our healthcare employees have no legally protected exemption options. While some hospitals are choosing to offer exemptions, these exemptions are woefully inadequate. For example, Mercy has stated that a board or committee will be looking into all exemptions and that medical exemptions must be “backed up by science”. This exemption process has the potential to be biased, and discriminatory. No employee should be forced to prove the validity of their medical or religious exemption. The same employees who were heralded as heroes in 2020 are now being coerced into taking an experimental drug or face the loss of employment.
We have a few tips and resources for employees that are facing this issue at their place of employment.
Get connected with OKHPR!
Sign up as a health care professional at okhpr.com so that we can continue to send you targeted action alerts, invite you to exclusive events, and stay in touch about lawsuits and exemption options.
Join OKHPR’s new texting system. Text “#HCP” to 405-251-8915. Many who were in attendance at the townhall requested a way to organize by the hospital they are employed at so that employees can band together and be united. After you have registered for the texting system, send a text with the name of the hospital that you work at so we can group employees together.
Watch OKHPR’s Emergency townhall where we discussed a number of different issues with a panel of speakers including legislators, attorneys, and doctors.
Find your elected officials (after entering your information, scroll all the way to the bottom) and call the governor (405-521-2342), your state representative, and state senator. Tell them that you are a constituent and you are asking them to take up this issue as soon as possible as nearly half of our hospital employees will be fired in the next month. This is an emergency situation that needs to be addressed. Make sure your elected representatives also understand that exemptions for employees are not codified in law in Oklahoma like they are for school children. Employers do not have to offer or accept exemptions for medical or religious reasons!
Then look up the elected representatives for your workplace, church, and school. If it is different from the elected representatives at your home address, give them a call as well! Tell them that you work/ attend church/ go to school in their district and you are asking that they take up this issue as soon as possible.
Communicating with your employer
We recommend that you attempt to file an exemption if your employer is offering one. If you need a minister to sign a religious exemption, the following ministers have reached out to us and are willing to sign exemptions. Click here for the minister list. You can also find samples of religious exemptions here. Another resource is called Freedom of Religion. They have provided religious exemption samples on their website here.
1. Document absolutely everything with your employer. Be sure to document all of your inquiries and communication with your employer in writing.
BCC your private email account of ALL emails communication with your employer.
If you have verbal communications with your employer regarding your desire not to be coerced into taking the vaccine, send a follow-up email to the person with whom you had the conversation. “Per our conversation, I understand the following … etc. This is called a CYA email.
When having a conversation with your employer, you can record that conversation with your smartphone. “Oklahoma is a “one-party consent” state. This means that if the recording party is part of the conversation, it is legal for him or her to record. On the other hand, it is illegal to record a conversation between people who are unaware of the recording if you are not a party to the conversation (wiretapping someone’s phone line, for example).”
When recording an employer, put your phone on “airplane mode”. (If you get a random call during a recording, it will pause the recording.
2. Be polite, be kind, but demand answers.
3. Ask in writing all of your questions. We have compiled a number of different questions in these templates from our legal team to ask questions about the mandate. Please do not cut and paste the letter verbatim. It is recommended that you read the document and place the questions in your own words in your own language. It is encouraged that you remove questions that you don’t wish to include and (more importantly) add questions that you have that are more tailored to your specific employment.
4. Tell them you have private medical reasons on why you do not want the vaccine and ask if there is there an exemption process.
5. Be sure in your correspondence that you say that you are uncomfortable with this mandate and you feel they are forcing you to make a personal medical decision. Communicate that you are not comfortable sharing your personal medical information.
7. Let your employer know you want to keep your job.
8. Most importantly….DO NOT QUIT YOUR JOB! Wait for them to fire you.