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Yes, it's legal for an employer to place you on unpaid leave for being unvaccinated

Some Central Georgia employers say those people are putting their jobs at risk.

MACON, Ga. — Employers around the U.S. are asking their employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Those who don't could face repercussions from suspension to termination.

Some Central Georgia employers say those people are putting their jobs at risk.

13WMAZ heard about one company that's putting unvaccinated workers on unpaid leave, but is that legal?

"I would like to know if a company can legally put you on administrative leave for 30 days because you're not willing to be vaccinated," asked Erical Veal.

Veal says her job is one of many making the jab mandatory.

"It just came up; it's just all of a sudden. They kept coming last year trying to convince us that we should take the vaccine," she said.

So we set out to VERIFY -- is it legal? To answer, we cited the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and spoke to Mercer Law professor David Oedel.

"An employer could plausibly require it," said Oedel.

As he explains, there are exceptions, like people with severe medical conditions who shouldn't get the shot.

"For instance, one argument -- an entirely plausible one -- is that the vaccine doesn't really help you and it may actually hurt you, and there are other things. Religion is one," he explained.

According to the EEOC, federal anti-discrimination laws don't prohibit employers from requiring all employees to be vaccinated. 

Employees may be entitled to accommodations that don't make it hard for the business, like wearing face masks, working socially distanced, working a modified shift, getting periodic tests for COVID-19, having the opportunity to telework, or accepting a reassignment. 

Oedel says vaccines are a part of America's history. 

"General Washington during the Revolutionary War required that his soldiers get vaccinated, so we have a long history of requiring vaccines for critical kinds of occupations," he said. 

So the answer is YES; it is legal for an employer to place employees on unpaid leave for not being vaccinated.

For information on COVID 19 vaccines in the workplace, visit the EEOC's website here.

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