October 20, 2021

Texas limits employer vaccine mandates

The governor of Texas recently issued an executive order that prevents employers from “compelling” an employee to get vaccinated if the employee objects for certain reasons. The law does not prohibit employers from mandating or encouraging vaccines, but does require that they provide exemptions from their COVID-19 vaccine mandates for employees who do not want the vaccine for the following reasons:

  • A reason of personal conscience
  • A religious belief
  • A medical reason, including prior recovery from COVID-19

Religious and disability-related exemptions were already required under federal and state law, with certain exceptions.

While employers cannot compel vaccination for those who do not want the vaccine, they can still require additional safety measures of those individuals, such as masking, social distance, and regular testing.

These new constraints for Texas employers will most likely conflict with the ETS (emergency temporary standard) from OSHA (the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration), which will require employers with 100 or more employees to mandate vaccination for COVID-19. However, the OSHA ETS will almost certainly overrule these restrictions for employers in Texas.

Disclaimer:The information contained herein is not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. Employers should closely monitor the rules and regulations specific to their jurisdiction(s) and should seek advice from counsel relative to their rights and responsibilities.

By Megan Butz
General Counsel, HR Compliance, Checkwriters
Megan joined Checkwriters in 2020 and is responsible for reviewing, revising, and implementing internal policies of the company, advising on human resource, employment, and labor matters, and monitoring and publishing state and federal legal updates to the Checkwriters News and Compliance Center for distribution to thousands of clients around the country. Before joining Checkwriters, Megan served as a judicial law clerk for the justices of the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court performing legal research and writing, followed by private practice in Cape Cod.

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