Austin, TX – No matter which side of the debate you are on, there’s no question that employer vaccine mandates are a hot topic in Texas. On one side, we have the US government’s vaccine mandate for Federal contractors and businesses with 100 or more employees. And on the other side, there’s the Texas government’s executive order banning vaccine mandates. As a business owner, you should be very concerned about the dueling rules. This is especially true since the Legislature recently tried to pass a law giving employees a right to sue over employers’ refusal to grant an exemption.
Here’s the problem. In Texas, employees can file discrimination complaints with the Texas Workforce Commission any time they think that the law has been broken. Failure to make reasonable accommodations for employees who cannot take the vaccine for religious or medical reasons may result in a lawsuit under existing laws. Even if your employee doesn’t get a favorable determination from TWC, the investigation can cost you time and money. Almost as bad, there’s the possibility that the State government will try and enforce the mandated ban against Texas businesses.
On the other side of the table, there’s the Federal government. The US government’s vaccine mandate for medium-sized businesses provides for a fine that’s payable each time an employer has an unvaccinated, untested employee. Once OSHA has its emergency rule approved by the White House, these provisions will provide a significant potential liability.
Luckily, there are ways to minimize your risk, both from fines and discrimination complaints. First, most experts agree that federal law supersedes state regulations. To that end, insurers are gearing up to protect business owners from potential liability. However, insurance only helps if you have purchased the right policy. “Now is a good time for small business owners to check their insurance policies to see if they have the right protection,” says Nicole Smith, CEO of SBFreeQuote.com. “Employers want to be sure that if they face an investigation, lawsuit, or OSHA fines, that they are covered. In addition, Worker’s Compensation policies may have requirements for vaccines or other mitigation strategies.”
Of course, even with great insurance, it’s always a good idea to check with legal counsel or your local small business association. They’ll be up to date on the latest guidance for businesses of your size and type. Combined with the right insurance through SBFreeQuote.com, professional advice can help any business weather the storm of Texas vaccine debates.