Can Texas Businesses Require COVID Vaccine?

Find out what Texas businesses can do regarding COVID vaccine requirements and how they can protect their workers.

Can Texas Businesses Require COVID Vaccine?

The ramifications for companies could begin on Friday, when companies that sign contracts with the federal government will need to vaccinate all employees under White House orders. To join it, said Harold Westervelt, CEO of Texas-based technology company FileTrail, which has about 70 employees. As the coronavirus makes it increasingly clear that it is here to stay, businesses are feeling pressure to reopen and restore some semblance of normality. Greg Abbott recently made headlines when he signed an executive order banning employers (and other entities) from enforcing COVID-19 vaccination mandates if employees oppose it for a wider range of reasons than federal directives allow.

Spokesmen for the two airlines told the Tribune that the requirement will not change despite Abbott's new order. In addition, businesses with at least 100 employees will be covered by an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Temporary Emergency Standard (ETS), which will require covered employers to ensure that employees are vaccinated or regularly tested for COVID-19. However, it should be noted that EO-40 presumably goes beyond the scope of these Texas laws, since the Texas Attorney General has expressed the view that private schools, for example, as non-state actors, are not required to accept medical or conscientious objections. The Greater Houston Partnership, a leading business group in Harris County, also denounced Abbott's action. In Texas and Florida, state officials said they wanted to protect workers' freedoms by limiting the types of safety protocols employers could implement.

Texas and Florida laws have forced domestic companies operating in states to make exceptions to corporate policies. However, many employers have found that regulations can be a barrier to keeping their workers safe and businesses open. Regarding what could happen to an unemployment claim resulting from a vaccination requirement, TWC will handle such cases according to the specific facts of each individual case. Some major domestic employers maintain their vaccination mandates in Texas and Florida by applying them only to people who enter their offices.

If that approach keeps companies out of the sights of state officials, it could be put to the test when more workers are required to return to the office. In view of these issues, employers are taking several approaches, which may vary depending on the nature of their business, their current policies, and the federal regulations that apply to them.

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