Alabama Immunization Mandate Updates and Vaccine Exemption Law

As we’re sure you’ve heard, a lot of people aren’t too keen on the federal government forcing employees to get vaccinated. Just to keep everyone on the same page in these ever-changing times, here’s a quick update on the various lawsuits and a new Alabama law regarding immunization exemption claims:

Mandates suspended at all levels

  • Federal contract mandate – STAY. As you know, the White House issued a Executive Decree requiring employees of federal contractors to be vaccinated. In State of Georgia v. Joseph R. Biden, a Georgia federal district court issued a nationwide injunction for this vaccine warrant.

  • CMS Mandate for Healthcare Workers – RESTER. For healthcare professionals, you know that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have made COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for workers in most healthcare facilities receiving Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement. In State of Missouri v. Joseph R. Biden, a federal district court suspended the CMS mandate in 10 states. The next day, in State of Louisiana v. Beccerra, another federal district court issued an injunction to suspend CMS’s tenure everywhere. Then CMS released a QSO memo advising state investigative agencies that they should not apply the Interim Final Rule (IFR) regarding the mandate of vaccines or the requirements for the policies and procedures of Medicare / Medicaid certified providers and providers as long as court injunctions are in place pending further clarification from the courts.

  • OSHA Mandate – STAY. Finally, the OSHA temporary emergency standard that made vaccination mandatory for employers with 100 or more employees is also on hold. As we previously reported, OSHA’s mandate is suspended and is now pending before the Sixth Circuit, and OSHA has “suspended activities related to the implementation and enforcement of the ETS. pending future developments in the dispute ”.

So those of you who were trying to figure out how to comply with the various federal vaccine mandates can take a deep breath. It is not over but we are in a time out for the moment.

New Alabama Employee Vaccination Exemption Law

If you are an Alabama employer who has (regardless of federal tenure) implemented a vaccine requirement for your workforce, you are still free to do so, subject to a universal application form and an appellate review process. Alabama passed legislation last month setting out new requirements for mandatory vaccine exemptions, which are described in more detail below. (If you required employee vaccination before November, you don’t need to review old exemption requests, but you should start offering this universal form to your new hires.) This new law is in effect until as of May 1, 2023.

The law expressly provides that employers cannot require employees to receive COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment without first giving them the opportunity to be exempted for a sincere religious belief or medical reason. The law provides that employers must “freely interpret” an employee’s eligibility for the immunization exemption, and the employee’s submission of the completed form creates a presumption that the employee is entitled to the exemption.

This exemption must be offered through a universal application form, which is available online. Employers should make the form available to all employees, along with instructions for submitting the form. Once an employee submits an application form, the employer must keep a copy.

The form includes the various reasons an employee can request the exemption:

  1. My health care provider recommended that I decline the COVID-19 vaccination based on my current condition and medication.

  2. I have had a serious allergic reaction (eg, anaphylaxis) from vaccinations in the past.

  3. I have previously suffered from a severe allergic reaction from receiving polyethylene glycol or products containing polyethylene glycol.

  4. I have previously suffered from a severe allergic reaction from receiving polysorbate or products containing polysorbate.

  5. I have received monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma as part of COVID-19 treatment in the past 90 days.

  6. I have a bleeding disorder or am taking a blood thinner.

  7. I am severely immunocompromised, so getting the COVID-19 vaccine poses a risk to my health.

  8. I have been diagnosed with COVID-19 within the past 12 months.

  9. Receiving the COVID-19 vaccine conflicts with my sincere religious beliefs, practices or observances.

The form clearly indicates that the reason is not. 1 requires the signature of a licensed healthcare provider. The other reasons do not require any supporting document other than the signature of the requesting employee.

After denying an exemption request, the employer must provide the employee with instructions to file a review request with an administrative judge, which must be submitted within seven days of the denial. (These instructions are also available online.) Once the employee submits a request for review, the employer may provide any relevant information for the consideration of the administrative judge before rendering a decision. The administrative judge must render a decision within 30 days of receiving the request. If the administrative judge maintains the refusal, the employee can then file an appeal with the court. An employer cannot terminate an employee for non-vaccination whose exemption request has been refused until seven calendar days after the refusal, or until the end of the appellate review process.

Regardless of this law, employers in Alabama should consider requests for religious and medical exemption from immunization under Title VII and the United States Disability Act, if applicable, but it adds structure, a expedited appellate review under state law and a thumbs up on the employee scale. to favor.

Stay tuned for further developments on the vaccine front.

© 2021 Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLPRevue nationale de droit, volume XI, number 342

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