On December 8, 2021, the Texas Workforce Commission (“TWC”) sent a letter to all employers in the state of Texas setting forth its position on Executive Order GA-40.
Specifically, as we informed you on December 1, 2021, Texas is among several states that have restricted employers’ ability to mandate COVID vaccines. The TWC letter informs Texas employers that they cannot impose vaccine mandates on an employee who qualifies for an exemption based on religious, personal, or medical reasons. The TWC further advises that any employer in the state seeking to require COVID vaccinations, must first inform employees of the available exemptions, including exemptions for personal conscience. The TWC provides a sample “check the box” form for employers to use in processing exemption claims.
Employers in Texas should understand that if they terminate an employee for refusing a vaccine and do not provide the employee an opportunity to claim an exemption, then the employee will likely be able to collect unemployment benefits. In its letter, the TWC reminds employers that these unemployment claims will have an impact on chargebacks and experience ratings.
We also remind employers that they will have to analyze medical accommodation requests under the ADA.