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

17 May

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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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This communication is intended solely for the purpose of conveying information. The present post might incorporate hyperlinks directing readers to websites managed by third-party entities. The inclusion of any links within this communication is meant to serve as points of reference and could encompass opinion articles from various law firms, articles from HR associations, official websites, news releases, and documents of government agencies, and other relevant third-party sources. Vensure has no authority over these external websites and bears no responsibility for their content. Furthermore, Vensure does not endorse the materials present on these websites. The contents of this communication should not be interpreted as legal advice or as a legal standpoint concerning specific facts or scenarios. Nor should it be deemed an exhaustive compilation of facts potentially pertinent to federal, state, or local laws. It is strongly advised that employers solicit legal guidance from an employment attorney when undertaking actions in response to any legal updates provided. This is due to the possibility of future alterations occurring in federal, state, and local laws, regulations, as well as the directives and guidelines issued by governing agencies. These changes may transpire at any given time, potentially rendering certain portions of the content within this update void or inaccurate.

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