- Mar 01, 2021
Five Iowa Senators recently sponsored a bill related to COVID-19 and other vaccinations. Senate File 193 would prohibit employers from imposing vaccination mandates. Under the proposed bill, employers could not refuse to hire, discharge, penalize, or discriminate against any employee based on vaccination history, or refusal to receive a vaccination or provide proof of immunity. While this would apply to any employer, section five specifically outlines these prohibitions for hospitals and healthcare facilities. The proposed bill would also provide civil remedies such as injunctive relief, actual damages, or reinstatement of employment with back pay for employees whose rights were violated under the Act.
Iowa is an at-will employment state. Therefore, under current law, employers have the right to set conditions for the employment—subject to exceptions. Some exceptions related to vaccinations include medical contraindications or conflicts with a tenet or practice of the individual’s sincerely held religion.
A human resources subcommittee held a nearly two-hour hearing on February 11 to discuss the proposed bill. During the hearing, the subcommittee heard from guests such as county public health directors, Iowa's state epidemiologist Dr. Caitlin Pedati, and concerned citizens. In a 2–1 decision, the subcommittee voted to advance the bill to the full human resources committee. The proposed legislation is subject to recommendations, amendment, and debate prior to voting.
If you would like to contact legislators, you can find their information here.
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