With OSHA’s emergency temporary standard (ETS) in place and going into effect in Jan. 2022, many employees have begun to push back against the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
Most recently, a religious group petitioned the 5th Circuit to put a stop to OSHA’s ETS, saying imposing the COVID-19 vaccine mandate would violate religious workers’ beliefs.
Here’s why this petition won’t be moving forward.
Violation of beliefs
The American Family Association (doing business as Daystar Television Network) told the 5th Circuit that subjecting religious employees to OSHA’s vaccine mandate would be a “sin against God.”
In the petition, these employees elaborated by saying, “Any mandate that forces American Family Association to compel their employees to be vaccinated against their will is one that would require them to violate their employees’ sacred rights of belief and conscience.”
Reasonable accommodations available
In short, the company has a religious objection to the mandate. So why did the 5th Circuit dismiss the petition? Employment law attorney Jon Hyman explains.
Hyman says that OSHA’s vaccine mandate doesn’t in fact force employees to receive the vaccine. Those who don’t wish to be vaccinated due to religious beliefs have the option of getting tested for COVID-19 on a weekly basis and wearing face coverings in the workplace.
If, for some reason, the weekly testing and face coverings also violate an employee’s sincerely-held religious beliefs, employers may have to grant a further reasonable accommodation, such as remote work.
“There is simply no argument that the OSHA rule violates employees’ religious rights when the reasonable accommodation is baked right into the rule itself,” Hyman says.
While this petition was throw out, it is likely many more objections to the ETS will continue to pop up the closer we get to the January deadline.