Republicans divided on bill to force businesses to pay reparations to some workers who refused COVID vaccine

By Gloria Gomez | Arizona Mirror

Employers could be forced to fork out a year’s wages as reparations to employees whose religious exemptions from a company’s COVID-19 vaccination policy were denied. 

The Arizona House of Representatives on Monday gave preliminary approval to House Bill 2198, which requires employers to pay a lump sum equal to the employee’s annual wages upon severance or in a dozen monthly installments unless they rehire them at the same or similar position with an accommodation for their religious exemption request. Accommodations can include social distancing, masking, remote work or weekly testing. 

The Arizona Civil Rights Act and the federal Civil Rights Act each direct employers to provide reasonable accommodations for employees who request them. While it’s difficult to disprove a religious belief, employers are allowed to ask for supporting information to verify the claim and may deny it if none is provided, or if the belief does not reasonably conflict with the requirement. If the accommodation causes the business undue hardship, the employer may also legally deny it. 

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