Local employment attorney reacts to Tyson’s COVID-19 policy

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – Monday is the deadline for all Tyson employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or lose their jobs. 

This is unless they have a religious or medical exemption, however, even those Tyson employees who do have an exemption accepted are finding themselves in a difficult situation.  

According to Tyson, those who have been granted a religious or medical exemption are the only option available to them to be placed on unpaid leave. 

However, according to one local employment lawyer, it legally has to provide other options.

“A blanket policy that says everybody, without regard to your circumstance, has to get unpaid leave. That’s a sort of blanket policy that would not be legal. You have to look into each individual employee,” says WH Law attorney Chris Burks. “There’s the American Disabilities Act, and there is also Title VII which provides for religious freedoms.” 

Burks admits he hasn’t had the chance to work on a Tyson COVID-19 policy case yet, but he says any employer that does not follow federal employment law could be subject to a class-action lawsuit. 

Similar to the United Airlines case which he says also violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

“It requires employers to make individual determinations about the particular circumstances of each employee, and if they’re not doing that’s a violation of law,” says Burks. 

We reached out to Tyson to react to Burks claims; it says, “accommodations are approved on an individual basis. In some cases, those who choose to not be vaccinated and have requested and been provided accommodation are placed on leave of absence.”

As of right now, 96% of Tyson employees are vaccinated, and according to Tyson’s CEO, the 4% who aren’t will have the opportunity to return to work and rejoin Tyson if they’re willing to get vaccinated. 

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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