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Texas bans businesses from requiring Covid vaccine

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on June 22, 2020. (Ricardo B. Brazziell/Austin American-Statesman/TNS)
November 14, 2023

Gov. Greg Abbott (R-Texas) signed a law Friday that bans private employers in Texas from mandating COVID-19 vaccines for employees.

In a press release last Friday, the Texas governor explained that the new law (Senate Bill 7) prohibits employers from requiring employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccination and carries a $50,000 for employers who violate the new law. In addition to the $50,000 fine, employers would also be subject to a lawsuit and injunctive relief from the state’s attorney general.

“This law adds to the law that I already signed that prohibits state and local governments from imposing COVID mandates,” Abbott stated. “It’s long past time to put COVID behind us and restore individual freedom to all Texans. I thank Senator Middleton, Representative Leach, and all other members of the Texas Legislature who stood with this issue every step of the way.”

Abbott previously tweeted a celebratory post in late October after the legislation passed both the Texas Senate and House. The ban on COVID-19 mandates for private employers was one of the governor’s top priorities for Texas’ third special session.

According to The Washington Examiner, Texas State Sen. Mayes Middleton, the original sponsor of Senate Bill 7, originally drafted a bill with a $10,000 fine for employers found to be in violation of the anti-vaccine mandate law. However, the Texas House increased the fine to $50,000 before passing the law.

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Before Abbott signed Senate Bill 7 into law, Middleton referred to it as “the strongest ban on COVID vaccine mandates in the nation” in a post on X.

According to The Washington Examiner, the new Texas law against private employers requiring employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine will also apply to unpaid employees, health clinics, and doctor’s offices. However, employers are legally allowed to require unvaccinated staff members to wear masks or take other precautions.

Abbott signed a similar law earlier this year that prohibits any government entity in Texas from implementing COVID-19 vaccine mandates.