ONTARIO — Lawyers from the Pacific Justice Institute, a legal nonprofit who helps with religious freedoms, parental rights and other civil liberties, held a Zoom meeting on Sept. 16 to provide legal advice for people who are unable to receive the COVID-19 vaccines due to medical or religious reasons.
The call was hosted by the president and attorney of Pacific Justice Institute Brad Dacus.
Many questions came regarding President Joe Biden’s recent announcement, directing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to mandate that all employers with more than 100 workers to either be vaccinated or test for the virus weekly or lose their jobs. The move is estimated to affects about 80 million Americans.
About 17 million workers at health-care facilities with Medicare or Medicaid will also follow under the future mandate.
Attorney Ronald J. Hackenberg from the Institute’s Mississippi office said the mandate would not go into effect until this November, as OSHA still has to put the framework together.
He said after going into effect OSHA would have a 50- to 90-day implication period.
Hanckenberg said that in some states, such as Michigan, some health-care providers are accepting a positive test for COVID-19 anti-bodies in place of getting the vaccine.
Hanckenberg told people who were applying for religious exceptions “not to use a generic form” as many companies will turn them down.
He said instead to “be sincere” in your request explaining to the employer why this would be a violation of your conscience or belief in God.
Nevada based attorney Emily Mimnaugh said that if your religious exception letter is denied, then ask the employer “What is the reason for the denial,” and to “see if they have an appeals process.”
Hanckenberg said that if an employer takes retaliatory action against an employee for not being vaccinated, then that employee should file a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Commission.
Title VII (7) of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from failure or refusal to hire any individual or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to his/her compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because of an individual’s race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
The act also prohibits the employer from segregating or classifying their employees or applicants for employment in, which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his/her status as an employee because of an individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
If the commission finds that the employee’s rights have been violated, that employee can take legal action against their company.