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17 May

May 2022: Mississippi Governor Signs Bill Requiring Public and Private Employers to Permit Religious Exemptions

Posted at

1:04pm

in

Update Applicable to:
All employers imposing vaccine mandates on their employees in the state of Mississippi

What happened?
On April 22, 2022, Governor Reeves signed House Bill 1509 (HB 1509) into law, which prohibits private and public employers from requiring a COVID-19 vaccine for employees who have “a sincerely held religious objection to receiving a vaccine for COVID-19.”

What are the details?
Effective immediately, private and public employers are prohibited from requiring a COVID-19 vaccine for employees who have a “sincerely held religious” objection to receiving a vaccine for COVID-19.

While the act’s use of the term “sincerely held religious” objection mirrors Title VII’s well-known “sincerely held religious belief” standard, the act does not reference Title VII and does not reference the ability of a private employer to deny a requested exemption due to undue hardship, as allowed under Title VII.

Given the mandatory language of the act and lack of guidance, Mississippi employers, both public and private, should approach COVID-19 vaccine religious exemption requests with caution.

For more information, please see the links below:

House Bill 1509 (HB 1509)

Article

What do employers need to do?
Employers should review the links provided above and per our source, Butler Snow LLP, should exercise caution and seek legal counsel when analyzing an employee’s request for religious exemption to a COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

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