Discrimination isn’t always a bad thing

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When you hear the word discrimination, what comes to mind? Likely you equate the term with prejudice. But one doesn’t need to prejudge or generalize in order to discriminate.

If you ran a business and certain parties regularly wrote out bad checks to your establishment, you would likely maintain a list of those people and refuse to accept payment in the form of a check. Same is true if you own a restaurant where certain parties have made a habit out of dining and dashing. You might demand that these people pay before being served, or refuse service entirely.

This is precisely why businesses have the right to refuse service in certain circumstances. In most cases, when a business refuses service, they are only hurting themselves. But when there are persons, who through their behavior pose a risk to staff and other customers, the business owner should be able to deny service. What about when a staff member poses risk to customers and other staff? The answer should be simple; get rid of them! But not so fast… people who like to say they are pro-business just attempted to strip away the right of employers to do that.

Last month, Republicans in our state legislature pushed through a bill that would prevent employers from mandating vaccination for COVID.

In certain workplaces, hospitals, nursing homes, and schools especially, requiring staff to get vaccinated holds the promise of herd immunity. If a person opts not to get vaccinated, they could always seek employment elsewhere. This is, after all, an at-will employment state. This means that unless a contract between the employer and employee states otherwise, either party can terminate employment for any reason. Given this, termination of an employee who refuses to be vaccinated during a pandemic should be entirely within the rights of an employer.

It appears that employers mandating vaccination is likely to run into legal implications in much of the U.S. Incentivizing employees to get vaccinated may be a more practical means of achieving the same ends.

Those who oppose vaccination argue that requiring it is an infringement on their freedom. Many of these same people have used the same argument to oppose social distancing and wearing facial coverings in public. What doesn’t get expressed is how people who fail to take such precautions are infringing upon the freedom of those who are behaving responsibly.

I have a weakened immune system due to medication I take for my multiple sclerosis. Due to the decision by local law enforcement to refuse to enforce the mask mandate, my freedom to occupy many public spaces in my community was stripped away in the name of protecting the “freedom” of selfish, irresponsible people who are out of touch with reality.

Fortunately, some businesses and organizations took it upon themselves to enforce a mask mandate and law enforcement agreed to intervene if someone was causing a problem by refusing to follow the policy put forth by the business or organization. Even when the Wisconsin Supreme Court decided to overturn the state mask mandate earlier this month, local governments and businesses are welcome to implement their own mandates.

In any thoughtful discussion of freedom, the unalienable rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” that appear in the Declaration of Independence should be addressed. I fail to see where the actions of people behaving irresponsibly have not infringed on my right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. People like me should be the ones to decry an attack on our freedom. Why did we remain silent on this? It is time to speak up.

Every employer should have the right to protect themselves, staff, and customers however they see fit. If any of us wind up in a hospital or nursing home, we should be able to feel safe.

COVID-19 remains a real threat, and more contagious and deadly variants have already arrived in Central Wisconsin. Isn’t it about time that we stop pretending that a pandemic isn’t an extraordinary circumstance and start requiring certain actions? It isn’t as though vaccines were never required here. In much of the U.S., certain vaccinations are required for children to attend school.

Eradication of any virus is dependent upon every potential carrier being vaccinated. To allow conspiracy theories and cowardice to stand in the way of eradication is foolishness. For now, I maintain the right to discriminate against fools.