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Not getting your shot can cost you your job

The CEO of Morgan Stanley wants all the boys and girls back in the financial giant’s Times Square office by Labor Day. “If you can go to a restaurant in New York City,” James Gorman told them, “you can come into the office. And we want you in the office.”

Gorman added: “If you want to get paid New York rates, you work in New York. None of this ‘I’m in Colorado … and getting paid like I’m sitting in New York City.” Clearly, the time employees may happily Zoom in from a lakeside cabin or suburban sunroom is drawing to a close.

This is a sentiment less colorfully shared by other captains of Wall Street finance, where group effort is often required.

“Having worked in the industry for 25 years,” James Davies, a top Deutsche Bank executive said, “it was somewhat strange to walk onto the trading floor … and see, you know, I guess six to 10 people here, versus the hundreds we would normally have.” He wants them back, too.

Say what you want about Wall Street bosses, they’re refreshingly uninterested in indulging the preferences or prejudices of their high-paid workers. It should thus surprise no one that they’d insist that the returnees are vaccinated against the coronavirus.

They’re not heartless. Gorman says those who don’t want the vaccine for genuine health or religious reasons will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Arguing that you don’t want the shot because Tucker Carlson says it is dangerous, however, will not work.

It takes less of a mental leap to understand why hospital staff would also be told, no jab, no job. That didn’t stop a nurse from becoming lead plaintiff in an unsuccessful suit against her employer, Houston Methodist Hospital, for firing workers who refuse to be vaccinated. Jennifer Bridges claimed she was being asked to become a “human guinea pig.”

The Texas federal judge who rejected her case stated the obvious: “Methodist is trying to do their business of saving lives without giving them the COVID-19 virus. It is a choice made to keep staff, patients and their families safer.”

A medical assistant seeking to stop a similar mandate at Indiana University Health contended that these medical institutions would “lose a lot of employees” as a result. Well, some people should not work in health care, particularly those who would expose vulnerable patients to a deadly disease.

Do note that most of these workers are already required to get an annual flu shot and to be immunized against measles, mumps, chickenpox and other infectious diseases. Suits to stop these mandates have also gone nowhere.

Experts at Johns Hopkins Medicine say all three vaccines authorized for emergency use are highly effective in preventing a serious disease, and their benefits greatly outweigh the rare risks. They would know.

The issue of liability is not insignificant. Hospitals could face serious legal consequences if an unvaccinated worker infects a patient, James Hodge Jr., a law professor at Arizona State University, told Stateline.

The mayor of a city near Los Angeles, meanwhile, says that city employees who work with the public must get vaccinated. If you won’t, Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris told them, “we’ll help you find another job in the city to do until this crisis is over.” But you could also be suspended without pay.

For the record, Parris is a Republican. And one can assume that the Wall Street executives who won’t let returning workers spread pestilence on their premises are fairly conservative. They all have businesses to run.

No one has to get the shot, but no one should have to employ those who won’t. Playtime is over.

* Froma Harrop is a syndicated columnist. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter @FromaHarrop.

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