Senate Bill 7, which has passed both the Senate and the House, is on its way to Governor Greg Abbott’s desk for approval. The bill imposes a $50,000 fine on employers who punish workers for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine.
The legislation applies to all private businesses, including doctors’ offices, clinics, and other health facilities. It also covers unpaid volunteers and students participating in medical internships.
While employers can require unvaccinated employees to wear protective gear or implement other reasonable measures, they cannot take actions that the Texas Workforce Commission deems as adversely affecting the employee or constituting punishment.
Proponents of the bill argue that it protects individual choice and employment rights. Enforcement would rely on employee complaints to the workforce commission, with potential fines and lawsuits by the Texas attorney general for violators.
Opponents, mostly Democrats, argue that the bill infringes on business owners’ freedom to make hiring decisions and implement safety measures. They also express concerns about healthcare professionals’ ability to implement vaccine policies that reduce the risk of viral spread for their patients.
It’s important to note that this information is accurate as of November 1, 2023, and the situation may evolve over time.