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Labor Week: Religious Considerations with Vaccine Mandates, Fight over Correctional Officer Vaccine Mandates in CA, AR Vaccination Privacy Bill & More

August 13, 2021

Vaccine Mandates Force Employers to Ponder Religion:

The surge in COVID-19 cases across the United States largely due to the Delta variant has prompted a growing number of major companies, including Google parent Alphabet, Tyson Foods and Walmart, to implement vaccination mandates. Those requirements are obliging the companies to grapple with the sensitive issue of their employees’ religious beliefs.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, employers must make reasonable accommodation for employees who refuse to be vaccinated because of “sincerely held religious beliefs.”

“It’s such a touchy subject for both sides,” said Erin McLaughlin, an attorney at Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney who advises large businesses.

She said the fact that there hasn’t been much guidance from regulators about religious beliefs is only adding to the challenge for companies attempting to develop vaccination policies.

“There will be a few employers who get it wrong before we get through the process to get pretty good established guidance on how to handle this, especially with vaccines,” she said. (INSURANCE JOURNAL)

CA Correctional Officers Union to Fight Vaccination Mandates:

In an email message to its members this month, the California Correctional Peace Officers Association said it would do everything in its power, including taking legal action, to fight two recent COVID-19 vaccination mandates.

On Aug. 5, a federal overseer of healthcare at California prisons asked a judge to require everyone coming and going from the prisons, including prison employees, to be vaccinated for COVID-19. And on Aug. 6, the state’s Department of Public Health mandated that all healthcare facility workers be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Sept. 30.

The union said it would not contest an order from Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on July 26 requiring most state workers to get vaccinated because it allows workers who don’t want to be vaccinated to get regularly tested instead. (SACRAMENTO BEE)

CA Gov Orders School Employees to Get COVID-19 Vaccinations:

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) issued an executive order last week requiring school employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 15 or submit to weekly testing. The order will apply to about 1,000 public school districts as well as private schools. The order noted that COVID-19 case rates in the state have increased “tenfold since early June,” and the vaccination rate for school-aged children is lower than 41 percent. (LOS ANGELES TIMES)

AR Lawmakers to Consider Vaccination Status Privacy Bill:

A bill (SB 719) filed in the Arkansas General Assembly on Aug. 5 would establish a state right to privacy for COVID-19 vaccination status, prohibiting employers from requiring employees from disclosing whether or not they’ve been vaccinated. On Aug. 6 the state’s legislators, convened in a special session called by Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R), rejected legislation (HB 1003 a, HB 1004 a, HB 1005 a, SB 3 a, SB 4 a, and SB 5 a) that would have allowed public schools to require masks for children under age 12 who can’t be vaccinated, and many lawmakers wanted to extend the special session to consider the vaccination privacy bill. (ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE)

-- Compiled by KOREY CLARK

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