Tennessee has enacted legislation (Senate Bill 1823) that requires employers that mandate COVID-19 vaccinations to allow certain exemptions. Senate Bill 1823 is effective immediately.
Tennessee had previously enacted legislation (Senate Bill 9014) that, among other things, prohibited employers from compelling a person to provide proof of their vaccination from COVID-19 if the person objects to receiving the vaccine.
Senate Bill 1823 amends Senate Bill 9014 to require employers that mandate workers to receive, or provide proof of a COVID-19 vaccination, to enact an exemption process for medical and religious reasons.
An employer may not take longer than 10 business days to grant or deny the person's request for an exemption, and they must provide a written statement that explains their decision to deny a request for exemption.
To claim an exemption based on medical reasons, an individual must provide a valid medical reason that is supported by a signed and dated statement from a licensed healthcare provider.
To claim a religious exemption, a person must state that they have a religious belief.
Note: Employers cannot require proof beyond the initial statement to grant the exemption.
Under the law, an employer cannot discharge, threaten to discharge, or reduce the compensation of a person because that individual received an exemption.
Employers that are found to have violated the law may face penalties of up to $10,000.
Tennessee employers should review their policies and procedures and train supervisors to help ensure compliance with Senate Bill 1823.