Another state just forbid employers from requiring employee COVID-19 vaccinations.

First it was Montana. And now Texas has become the second state to prohibit vaccine mandates.

Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order stating that no entity in Texas can compel receipt of a COVID-19 vaccination by any individual, including an employee or consumer, who objects to such vaccination for any reason of personal conscience, based on a religious belief, or for medical reasons, including prior recovery from COVID-19.

Governor Abbott strongly encouraged those eligible for COVID-19 vaccines to get them. However, the also emphasized that they “must always be voluntary for Texans.” Governor Abbott expects the Texas legislature to take up this issue in the near future to propose legislation for his signature. If this happens, Governor Abbott will rescind the Executive Order.

Six in one hand; half dozen in the other.

Employers that violate this Executive Order are subject to fine of up to $1,000.

But that happens with the OSHA issues its Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) requiring private employers of 100+ to mandate vaccines or test weekly? I’m not a Texas lawyer, but the testing option seems to be the way to go to comply with both the Executive Order and the ETS. There’s nothing in the former that precludes employers from testing their employees regularly.

The better question is what are the vaccination requirements for Texas-based federal contractors? Many federal contractors will not have a testing option. Rather, covered contractors must ensure that all full-time or part-time employees working on or in connection with a covered contract (including fully remote workers) or working at a covered contractor workplace are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 by December 8, 2021, unless the employee is legally entitled to an accommodation, which does not include “any reason of personal conscience” or “prior recovery from COVID-19.”

Health care providers will face another conundrum. The White House plan is to require vaccinations for “nursing home staff as well as staff in hospitals and other CMS-regulated settings, including clinical staff, individuals providing services under arrangements, volunteers, and staff who are not involved in direct patient, resident, or client care.”

There are no winners here. Except the lawyers.


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