Texas creates hotline for employees to report workplaces requiring COVID-19 vaccine

Texas Workforce Commission says Biden’s vaccine policies have ‘sown confusion’ among employers

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott attends a security briefing at the Weslaco Department of Public Safety DPS Headquarters on Wednesday, June 30, 2021 in Weslaco, Texas. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via AP, Pool) (Jabin Botsford, The Washington Post)

SAN ANTONIO – In the latest political battle between Texas and the federal government, the state’s workforce commission has set up a hotline for people to report workplaces requiring the COVID-19 vaccine, violating Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order.

Executive Order GA-40, which prohibits all entities, public and private, from requiring a COVID-19 vaccine from employees or customers, went into effect after Abbott signed the order in October.

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Though the order would generally be superseded by federal orders, federal courts have temporarily struck down President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandates on businesses, federal contractors and health care workers, meaning Abbott’s executive order remains in effect.

“The federal government has sown confusion among employers and employees by issuing a series of COVID-19 vaccine mandates of dubious legality,” Texas Workforce Commission officials wrote in a letter to employers. “But the law in Texas is on this point: An employers cannot impose a COVID-19 vaccine mandate on an employee who qualifies for an exemption for religious, personal, or medical reasons.”

“Employers should not mandate that any Texan receive a COVID-19 vaccine without notifying the employee of the necessary exemptions and procession those exemptions in good faith,” the letter continued.

The letter goes on to ask employees “subjected to a vaccine mandate in violation of Executive Order GA-40″ to notify the TWC by email at vaccine_job_loss@twc.texas.gov or on the phone at 800-939-6631.

Businesses found violating the order may be ordered to pay a fine, but jail time “is not an available penalty for violating this executive order,” the order states. It is unclear whether the maximum $1,000 fine allowed by the order would be levied on a per-day basis or per-employee basis.

In Florida, where similar restrictions, the penalty is applied per employee violation. In that state, one county was fined $3.5 million for requiring employee vaccinations.

Read the full letter from the TWC below:

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