From JDSupra, Andrew Esler and Dan Rodriguez discuss a recent Texas law that prohibits employers from requiring an employee or independent contractor be vaccinated as a condition of employment or engagement. Andrew and Dan write:
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law on November 10 a ban on private employer COVID-19 vaccine mandates, thus prohibiting employers in the Lone Star State from requiring vaccination against COVID-19 as a condition of employment or for an independent contractor position.
The law, which will be enforced by the Texas Workforce Commission, is set to go into effect February 6, 2024. An employer who is in violation of the law is subject to a fine of $50,000 for each violation, unless the violation is remedied by the hiring or reinstatement of the aggrieved employee or contractor with full back pay and benefits, as applicable. The law does provide limited exceptions for health care facilities and providers, who are permitted to establish and enforce a “reasonable policy” governing the use of protective medical equipment by unvaccinated employees and contractors.
As employers in Texas are well aware, this new law is the latest step in Abbott’s continued push to ban vaccine mandates, which began in 2021, in part, with the issuance of Executive Order GA-40. Employers who did not modify or eliminate their vaccine policies after the issuance of Executive Order GA-40, perhaps because of the Executive Order’s conflict with then existing federal law, are highly encouraged to review those policies in advance of the February 6 effective date to ensure compliance with the new law.