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Texas Tells Employers No COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates Permitted (US)

Squire Patton Boggs’ Authorized Intern Amber Bouie addresses new laws impacting Texas employers.

COVID-19 vaccinations have been the topic of office chatter because the vaccines turned extensively out there in late 2020. At first, some states barred authorities employers from requiring staff obtain vaccinations as a situation of continued employment, leaving personal sector insurance policies as much as the person employers. This stage of discretion is now evolving.

Late final yr, the Texas legislature handed, and Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed into legislation, Senate Invoice 7 (“SB 7”), which successfully implements a ban on COVID-19 vaccine mandates in personal workplaces. The legislation, which turned efficient as of February 6, 2024 and is codified at Chapter 81D of the Texas Well being and Security Code, prohibits personal employers in Texas from adopting or implementing sure COVID-19 vaccine mandates and authorizes an administrative penalty.

There are two essential provisions within the new legislation:

  • “An employer might not undertake or implement a mandate requiring an worker, contractor, applicant for employment, or applicant for a contract place to be vaccinated towards COVID-19 as a situation of employment or a contract place.” Texas Well being and Security Code, Chapter 81D, Sec 81D.002. Employers who violate the legislation could also be required to pay a penalty of $50,000 to the state, except the employer takes steps to mitigate the unfavourable motion that was taken.[1] Id. at Sec. 81D.006. This would possibly contain rehiring a dismissed worker or hiring an applicant who beforehand utilized.
  • The legislation additionally prohibits “hostile motion” by employers. Opposed motion is described as “an motion taken by an employer {that a} cheap individual would take into account was for the aim of punishing, alienating, or in any other case adversely affecting an worker, contractor, applicant for employment, or applicant for a contract place.” Id. at Sec. 81D.001(1). Employers ought to take cheap precautions to keep away from taking hostile actions towards employees, equivalent to termination or differential therapy, primarily based on vaccination standing.

Employers who’re Well being Care Services, Well being Care Suppliers and Physicians (as every are outlined within the legislation at Sec. 81D.0035) are topic to a restricted exception relating to “hostile actions.” “A well being care facility, well being care supplier, or doctor might set up and implement an inexpensive coverage that features requiring using protecting medical gear by a person who’s an worker or contractor of the ability, supplier, or doctor and who will not be vaccinated towards COVID-19, primarily based on the extent of threat the person presents to sufferers from the person’s routine and direct publicity to sufferers.” Id at Sec. 81D.0035(b).

On prime of the $50,000 penalty referenced above, the Texas Workforce Fee – the state administrative company that oversees and enforces office legal guidelines in Texas – might request that the Texas Legal professional Normal deliver an motion for injunctive reduction towards an employer that violates the legislation to stop additional violations by the employer. Id. at Sec. 81D.005.

All Texas-based corporations and people non-Texas employers with staff or contractors in Texas ought to promptly evaluate and modify any current vaccine insurance policies to align with the brand new legislation outlawing COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Contact authorized counsel promptly to make sure that your organization is absolutely compliant with the current state legislation change. This proactive step will assist safeguard your small business and mitigate any potential dangers related to non-compliance.

[1] Texas Office Fee, Covid-19 Vaccine Mandate, www.twc.texas.gov, Covid-19 Vaccine Mandate – Texas Workforce Fee (final visited Mar. 27, 2024).

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