No Vaccine, No Acupuncture Treatment

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It Is Allowed in Los Angeles Refusing Service to One Who Did Not Finish COVID-19 Vaccination

By Namwook Cho L.Ac.

An acupuncturist who has operated his own acupuncture clinic in Korea Town, Los Angeles, has recently grown concerned with a possible COVID-19 infection from a patient who did not finish the second vaccination. Also, a couple of his employees showed their concern that they did not feel comfortable treating them.

He wanted to check all patient’s vaccination cards as they entered his clinic, just like most restaurants. But there is a possibility for a lawsuit for refusing service due to the vaccination.

He sent an email to the Los Angeles Department of Public Health regarding whether he can enjoy a right to refuse service to an individual who cannot provide proof of vaccination. And he got an answer from DPH and said, “as far as my understanding at this time, you are within your right to refuse service to an individual that cannot provide you with the proper documentation.”

As You Refuse A Customer, Treat the Customer Fairly and Make the Customer Understand Why He Was Refused

How to Manage Your Clinic Safe From COVID-19

Most acupuncturists who have seen patients during the COVID-19 pandemic have questions like “what we should do to prevent the infection” and “what will be the best way to protect patients, staves, and myself.”

At the same time, the acupuncturist should consider their income for not seeing a patient. Sometimes, they have questions regarding practicing the right to refuse service to those who cannot provide proper proof for finishing the COVID-19 vaccination. But that is not so easy because of the nature of business. An acupuncture clinic is in place to provide services directly related to health-related issues. Not for selling goods or services. There are also ethical issues as one of the healthcare professionals. And a possible lawsuit could be filed for refusing acupuncture treatment for certain people.

What will be the best way to resolve the complicated issues?

Right to refuse service is one of the options.

I sent an email to see whether an acupuncturist can refuse a patient who did not finish the vaccination or cannot prove his or herself with a form of document. The answer was yes. One from the Los Angeles Department of Public Health(LA DPH) mentioned that “you are within your right to refuse service to an individual that cannot provide you with the proper documentation.” And he also added, “Please note that the Los Angeles County DPH Health Officer Order offers the minimum requirements. Your organization can make our recommendations requirements for your private business at this time as well.”

What exactly is right to refuse service?

According to Pride Legal, a website to connect a client to a lawyer explained that “The Unruh Civil Rights Act requires all businesses to host all people, and cannot be discriminated against under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which includes race, gender, religion, or sexual preference. The Unruh Act covers more than just these basics.” That means that based on the act, first, a business owner cannot discriminate against a customer by their race, color, religion, citizenship status, any disability, sex or gender identification, medical or genetic information, sexual preference, or marital status.

To make it simple, you can refuse to lend acupuncture service to your customers not by your patient’s race, color, religion, citizenship status, any disability, sex or gender identification, medical or genetic information, sexual preference, or marital status.

But there is a really important rule to practice your right. Your rule should be seen by visible signs in your business entrance and waiting area and make sure you apply the same rule to everyone. Do not make one who is about to be rejected by you feel unfair or bad. When refusing service to a customer, it is always best to treat them with respect and explain why you have the right to refuse service. Make the customer happy and have a sense of being treated fairly. That is a golden rule to reduce the chance of facing a lawsuit against you and your business.