A New York City waitress claims she was summarily fired after she told her employer she wanted to wait to get the COVID vaccine until she saw how it would affect her chances of getting pregnant.
Bonnie Jacobson is 34-years-old, has been married since October of 2019 and planning to have children. She was employed at a trendy Brooklyn restaurant named the Red Hook Tavern but was terminated on Monday allegedly because she didn’t want to get the vaccine immediately due to concerns about how it might affect her fertility.
“It was shocking to me,” she told NBC New York. “I went through the stages: I’m hurt, I’m in shock — then I got mad.”
Jacobson is adamant that she is not an anti-vaxxer and that she “fully supports” people getting vaccinated. Her issue was that she wanted more research done on the vaccine’s effects on fertility before she gets inoculated. The vaccine has allegedly not been tested on pregnant women and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is stating that there is limited data on how the vaccine could affect a woman who is expecting. Pfizer and Moderna are both monitoring women in clinical trials who became pregnant.
(Video Credit: NBC New York)
“The way I see it, getting the vaccine is for me. It protects me. If I am not getting it, it’s my choice, and I’d only be hurting myself,” the former waitress said.
The CDC also stated that getting the COVID vaccine is “a personal choice for people who are pregnant.” Expectant mothers are advised to seek advice from their doctors concerning what is right for them personally.
Restaurant staffers are now eligible for the vaccination in New York. This particular restaurant proceeded to inform their employees by email that they were eligible for the shot and after that, notified them that the vaccine was “mandatory” for all employees. They made one exception and that entailed the staffer’s personal health or disability that would prevent them from being inoculated.
Jacobson told her employer that she was “choosing not to get the vaccine because there just isn’t enough data or research at this point on its effects on fertility.”
“While I fully support the vaccine and understand its importance I do believe this is a very personal choice. I really hope this choice would not affect my employment at Red Hook Tavern,” she wrote. “Also once there is more research to support that it does not affect fertility I would reconsider my position.”
Monday, Jacobson found out she was being terminated for her stance by email. Management sent her a note that stated that even though they respected her choice in the matter, the vaccine was still mandatory and that “at this time your employment will be terminated.”
“We are sad to see you go,” the email read. “If you do change your mind, please do not hesitate to let us know.”
The waitress could not believe what had just happened. She had worked for the restaurant throughout the pandemic and had followed all guidelines and restrictions. Even though that forced her to work outside “in the freezing cold.”
“It was really impersonal. I was honestly shocked,” she said. “My gut reaction was to just say, ‘OK. Fine, I’ll get it. I need my job.’ But that just didn’t sit right with me. I was like, ‘Actually, I don’t think that’s right. I don’t think that’s the choice I need to be making here.’ ”
“I’ve been trooping along with them,” she noted. “I was expecting to be met by the same flexibility and compassion.”
“I just wanted more time they didn’t allow me that, I didn’t even have time to consult a physician. It was a week from being ‘your choice,’ to it’s not going to be mandatory, to it was mandatory, to you’re fired,” Jacobson said.
On Wednesday, the eatery seemed to modify their stance suddenly after the publicity of firing Jacobson. They are still requiring vaccinations but allowed that they are modifying their policy on those who request an exemption.
“Once New York state allowed restaurant workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, we thought this was the perfect opportunity to put a plan in place to keep our team and guests safe,” owner Billy Durney proclaimed in a released statement.
“No one has faced these challenges before and we made a decision that we thought would best protect everyone,” he defensively said. “We now realize that we need to update our policy so it’s clear to our team how the process works and what we can do to support them. We’re making these changes immediately.”
The move comes too late for Jacobson. Her former employer did not offer to rehire her. However, she doesn’t intend to sue them and she doesn’t want her job back either.
“It’s a good restaurant, the food is excellent, the money is great [but] I think I want to take a minute for myself,” Jacobson added. She wants to focus on having a family.
Jacobson reiterated that she will get the vaccine “once more data is out there.”
“The way I see it, maybe I need to be better informed,” she concluded.
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