Tuesday, November 02, 2021

Illinois Legislature Eliminates Religious Exemption For COVID Vaccine Employer Mandates

Last week, the Illinois legislature gave final passage to SB 1169 (full text) which amends the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act to provide:

It is not a violation of this Act for any person or public official, or for any public or private association, agency, corporation, entity, institution, or employer, to take any measures or impose any requirements ... intended to prevent contraction or transmission of COVID-19....

JD Supra explains:

The HCRCA has recently gained notoriety as a way for individuals to avoid complying with employer-mandated vaccine and testing policies and other COVID-19 safety measures. The HCRCA was enacted primarily to ensure that health care providers would not be compelled to participate in providing health care services that they find morally objectionable, such as performing abortions or dispensing contraceptives. However, the HCRCA is broadly worded.... 

While these protections are similar in some ways to Title VII in terms of requiring employers to accommodate employee religious beliefs ..., unlike Title VII, the HCRCA has no “undue hardship” exemption, even if granting an exception would create a significant risk to health and safety or prevent the employer from complying with federal or state regulations.