Can Employers Require Employees to Get Vaccinated?

The issue of whether any government can force people to get the Covid-19 vaccine is a no-brainer for libertarians. For us, the answer is very simple: Of course not. In a genuinely free society, people have the right to decide for themselves whether to get vaccinated or not.

But what if an employer requires his employees to get vaccinated? If they refuse to get vaccinated, does the employer have the right to fire them?

The issue is actually not an esoteric one. Methodist Hospital in Houston required all of its employees to get vaccinated as a condition of continued employment. One hundred and seventeen employees were suspended from work after refusing to get vaccinated.

The employees filed a lawsuit for wrongful termination in U.S. District Court, claiming that their rights had been violated. The presiding judge rejected their arguments and dismissed their suit. He was right to do so, especially from a libertarian perspective.

In a genuinely free society, an employer has the right to set any conditions for employment he wishes. If employees or prospective employees don’t like the conditions, they don’t have to work there. They are free to seek employment elsewhere. 

The judge in the Houston Methodist case correctly pointed out, “[The hospital’s vaccine requirement] is a choice made to keep staff, patients and their families safer…. [Nurse] Bridges can freely accept or refuse a covid-19 vaccine; however, if she refuses, she will simply need to work somewhere else.”

No one has the right to be employed by any particular employer. An employer’s business is private property. The employer has the right to run his business any way he wants, including setting whatever terms and conditions of employment it wishes.

By the same token, no one can be required to patronize any particular business or to work there. If consumers or employees don’t approve of how the business is being operated, they are free to go elsewhere. If a large number of consumers and workers boycott the business, it will likely lose market share and possibly even go out of business, which might cause the business to reconsider its position. 

That’s how things work in a truly free society and a truly free-market economy. The government is prohibited from butting into the process, except to serve as means by which people can peacefully resolve disputes in court, like what occurred in the Houston Methodist Hospital case. 

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at and from Full Context. Send him email.

Mandatory Vaccination Advice from “The Shrew”

I heard a horrific case for mandating the vaccine the other day. I believe it came from one of those awful shrews on “The View”. Her argument basically came down to: “People don’t have a right to prevent others from helping others.” That’s why the COVID vaccine must be mandated.

She accepts the false premise that taking a vaccination is to protect others, even though it does no such thing. Assuming a vaccination is effective, and I get the vaccine while you don’t, then I have done nothing to protect you from contracting the feared disease; the vaccination can only protect ME, not you.

Nevertheless the shrew on “The View” maintains that it does protect others, and that to NOT get the vaccination yourself prevents others from helping others. Wow. Talk about Communism. I’m not sure even the true blue Communists in Soviet Russia and Cuba ever went that far. “You must serve others,” they said. But I don’t think the Soviets or Maoists ever said, “You must serve others — otherwise you are violating the right of others to serve others.” It may have been too loony and illogical even for them.

We’ve gone from the concept of INDIVIDUAL rights — to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — to the “right” to serve others … a right which may not be prevented by others who refuse to serve. So if you wish to give your entire life’s savings away to a homeless person, according to this principle, then I am violating your right to do so by not giving MY entire life’s savings away to a homeless person.

I have no words for this kind of madness. The American Psychiatric Association has no name. It renders one speechless. If the women on “The View” are taken seriously enough to still be on the air, and capable of attracting viewers and advertisers, then we are living in a culture so unhinged that it’s unprecedented in all of human history.

Michael J. Hurd, Daily Dose of Reason

Coronavirus in an Alternate, Rational Universe: What Might Have Been

In a rational and free society, the reaction to coronavirus would not have been hysterical or tyrannical. People would have been left free to decide for themselves how to avoid getting this virus. All would have been fine — at least as fine as it has been, with none of the economic and social upheaval and decline. Of course, Donald Trump would likely still be President, and the country would not be under the stranglehold of an emerging one-party dictatorship, including the obliteration of the Bill of Rights itself.

So I guess it depends on what your definition of success is.

In such a free and rational society, any businesses or enterprises — large or small — would be free to have mask mandates or whatever they want. None of them would have done it, because it would have been bad for business and utterly unnecessary. If these things WERE necessary, no government mandates would be required, because it would be bad for business not to have masks and social distancing in stores and restaurants. There’s a reason why we never had lockdowns, mask lunacy, and multi-trillion dollar spending bills before, and why we survived flu or virus pandemics without them: They weren’t needed.

Michael J. Hurd, Daily Dose of Reason

Self-Respect is More Important than Politics

We talk about freedom and liberty in terms of politics and government. But freedom and liberty have more to do with psychology than with politics.

Consider the psychology of shaming. If you’re a dictator, you can’t depend on government for enforcement of everything. Sure, you can issue an edict demanding that everyone wear masks, even after they’re vaccinated, “for as long as I say so until I say otherwise.” But it’s the social shaming that really enforces the rule. In states like Florida, the Governor doesn’t even require people to wear masks. But many corporate stores do. The stores can’t totally enforce the mask mandates either, but they can count on shaming to take care of the job.

In order to resist shaming, you must have a strong sense of self. You must have self-esteem, self-respect and personal autonomy. Without these qualities, it really doesn’t matter if you’re living under a dictatorship, or not. Because without self-respect you’ll create your own kind of dictatorship by submitting to everything and everyone. You’ll create your own kind of inner jail, and perhaps start to resent others for the impositions YOU permit.

Dictators love people who are submissive. They can spend less money on jails, police and prisons and more money and energy on the things dictators like.

Events of 2020 and 2021 have shocked me. Even I never realized just how LOW the self-esteem and self-respect of most people are. I look at people wearing masks in their cars (alone no less), or masks on non-crowded sidewalks where even in blue states they’re not required. It doesn’t matter. Millions of people are SO lacking in self-respect and independent thought that they volunteer to advertise, “Look at me. I obey. I conform. Please like me.”

Most of the people doing this don’t really believe wearing masks help. Most grasp the fact that if masks really protect a person, then you don’t have to wear a mask to protect others. It doesn’t take a Ph.D. in rocket science to grasp that if vaccinations work (and therefore are essential), then mask-wearing should no longer be required — much less be required indefinitely (if not permanently) into the future. Most people know the absurdity of all this. It’s the SHAMING they’re afraid of. “If I don’t do what I’m told, then I will look mean or otherwise stand out in the eyes of others. THAT I cannot stand.”

A society filled with people who lack self-esteem cannot survive. If more people had even limited self-esteem — and that’s clearly, tragically not the case — then no dictatorship could ever take hold. Instead, dictators are on the march as we’ve never seen before in the United States. Just wait until the the vaccination passports start being required. Oh, and the mask mandates aren’t going anywhere either.

Self-esteem comes from a strong sense that one is able to determine what’s true without authorities — and, even more, that it’s a sacred personal responsibility to do so. I don’t know where that trait went in most Americans. Its absence has created an overwhelmingly clear and present danger to freedom itself.

Michael J. Hurd, Daily Dose of Reason