Arkansas Woman Claims She Was Fired for Not Taking COVID-19 Vaccine
An Arkansas woman says she was terminated from her job because she was uncomfortable with taking the COVID-19 vaccine.
Samantha Wise was fired on March 3 of this year from Harvest Cannabis Dispensary in Conway, Arkansas.
"They actually did it. They really fired me. I didn't think it was really going to happen," said Samantha Wise. "I knew most everybody's name that came in there. I liked making people's day. That's my main thing in life is to just make people smile."
Wise says the dispensary made it mandatory for all employees to get the vaccine. However, she had concerns about getting the shot.
"I am always that one out of every 10 or so that has a bad reaction. I am that one, so I would just rather not," said Wise, a mother of five. "I don't have a reaction with a lot of medicine."
She said that after she told management that she would not get the vaccine, she was told to turn in her badge and key card.
So here lies the question: "Can you legally be required to take the COVID-19 vaccine?"
An employment law attorney in Arkansas, Chris Burks, answers that query.
"A lot of Arkansans want to know can their employer force them to get a vaccine," said Burks. "The employer does have the right to a safe workplace. They have the right, they are the boss, they are in charge."
Burks says there are a few exceptions, however. "In Arkansas, your employer can fire you for not taking it unless there is an issue with a medical issue or religious belief."
Robbin Rahman, Executive Director for Harvest Cannabis Dispensary, did not comment directly about Wise's termination but did release a statement saying there were a number of factors that played a role.
That statement read in part:
Harvest has a policy of not commenting on the circumstances surrounding the termination of any employee. However, the former employee that is the subject of KARK’s story was terminated based on a number of factors and no single factor was determinative, including whether he or she did or did not get a COVID-19 vaccine.
Rahman also stated that as a condition of employment, everyone must receive the vaccine:
All employees, managers and owners must receive a COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of continued employment. Of course, for any employee that has provided notice of a medical or religious basis for not receiving the vaccine, Harvest will attempt to accommodate such employee to the extent possible.
There is no word yet if Wise will be seeking any type of legal action against her former employers.