St. Jude will require employees to receive COVID-19 vaccine

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is requiring all employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine by September 9th.

In a letter, the St. Jude CEO said employees who miss deadline will be put on unpaid leave for two weeks.

If they are not vaccinated at the end of the two-week period, they will be terminated.

In a statement, the research hospital emphasizes a need to keep its immuno-compromised patients safe.

“Employers have a right to use that kind of requirement if they think that’s appropriate for protecting the customers or other employees,” said U of M Professor Steve Mulroy.

Professor Mulroy is a law professor at the University of Memphis and a former federal prosecutor.

He believes more businesses and hospitals will require employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine before returning to the office.

While St. Jude is making vaccines mandatory, other hospitals like Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, Regional One and Baptist are strongly recommending it.

“Employers are allowed to place any kind of conditions on employment as long as it’s not in violation of a pre-existing contract with the employee,” said Mulroy.

Mulroy said an employee can challenge the vaccine requirement if they have a legitimate claim of disability or sincerely held religious belief.

He believes those arguments will most likely stand in court but other reasons will fail.

“It wouldn’t be a slam dunk case for them if the employer could come back with evidence showing there was a legitimate medical need for this and they were applying the rule neutrally and didn’t disfavor one religion or another,” said Mulroy.

At St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, employees need to have an approved religious or medical exemption if they are not getting the vaccine.

If not, they will be put on two weeks of unpaid leave.

FOX13 asked how many employees are currently vaccinated at St Jude. A spokesperson said they could not share that information.