A New York couple has filed a lawsuit with the Queens Supreme Court after both were furloughed from their catering jobs for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine, citing unknown effects on conception and pregnancy.
Jisserlin Reyes, 33, and Sandra Balbin, 36, planned to conceive via artificial insemination. Balbin said that the company already required wearing masks, social distancing, and getting tested twice a week—all measures with which the couple had complied.
Concerns mounted over the vaccine when the couple’s OB/GYN provided a letter stating that “the safety of the currently available COVID-19 vaccine has not been established.”
According to the Daily News, Balbin was only weeks away from her insemination date and didn’t “want to take any risks.”1
Balbin states the company, which terminated employment for both women on May 28, was going to help pay for the fertilization. Balbin said, “Now I feel like I don’t have the money to do this.”1
Legality of Mandated COVID-19 Vaccine Still in Question
The lawsuit against Great Performances was filed on June 14, 2021, alleging “wrongful termination and discrimination based on disability or sex.”1
The legality surrounding a workplace mandating the experimental COVID-19 vaccine being distributed by vaccine manufacturers under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) granted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is still in question. Multiple workplace-mandated vaccine lawsuits have been filed throughout the nation, including by a New Mexico detention center,2 a Los Angeles School district3 and one of Houston’s largest medical networks.4
The couple’s attorney stated that the women being fired under the given circumstances is equivalent to wrongful termination.1
EEOC States Employers Must Comply With ADA and Civil Rights Act Accommodations
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) COVID-19 vaccine guidelines, employers can require the vaccine but “must comply with the reasonable accommodations of the ADA… the Civil Rights Act, and other EEO considerations.”5
The EEOC guidelines state that alternative arrangements must be made for employees who may fall into these protected categories.5
CDC: “Currently No Evidence” of Fertility Issues Despite No Long-Term Data
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website states:
There is currently no evidence that COVID-19 vaccination causes any problems with pregnancy, including the development of the placenta. In addition, there is no evidence that fertility problems are a side effect of any vaccine, including COVID-19 vaccines.6
All three COVID-19 vaccines are still being distributed in the United States under at EUA, which requires less evidence of safety than that of products officially licensed by the FDA.7 The FDA states that use of an experimental vaccine with an EUA status is voluntary:
FDA must ensure that recipients of the vaccine under an EUA are informed, to the extent practicable given the applicable circumstances, that FDA has authorized the emergency use of the vaccine, of the known and potential benefits and risks, the extent to which such benefits and risks are unknown, that they have the option to accept or refuse the vaccine, and of any available alternatives to the product.8
Historically, experimental vaccines have undergone 10-15 years of development before FDA approval for use by the general public.9
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Click here to view References:
1 Goldberg N. Queens couple furloughed from jobs after refusing COVID vaccine over pregnancy concerns: lawsuit. Daily News June 16, 2021.
2 Bade B. Detention officer files lawsuit against Dona Ana Co. over vaccine mandate. KRQE Mar. 2, 2021.
3 Phillips F. Lawsuit challenging school district’s COVID-19 vaccine workplace mandate may provide guidance to private and independent schools. JD Supra Apr. 1, 2021.
4 Lenthang M. 117 employees sue Houston Methodist hospital for requiring COVID-19 vaccine. Yahoo! News May 29, 2021.
5 U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Federal Laws Prohibiting Job Discrimination Questions And Answers.
6 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Myths and facts about COVID-19 vaccines. June 17, 2021.
7 Musumeci M. Key questions about COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Kaiser Family Foundation Apr. 7, 2021.
8 U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Emergency Use Authorization Explained. Nov. 20, 2020.
9 Hendler C. Mandating a novel vaccine is a novel legal issue. The Vaccine Reaction June 7, 2021.