Kansas’ vaccine exemption law means new rules for employers, attorney general says

Coronavirus in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – With Kansas’ new law going into effect and giving workers a way out of President Joe Biden’s federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate, the state’s attorney general added that employers have also been banned from certain actions, too.

Public and private workers in Kansas can now cite their religious beliefs to avoid being required to get the COVID-19 vaccine requirement. Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced Wednesday that it has also become illegal in Kansas for any employer to “inquire” or make discretionary determinations about the legitimacy of a workers’ religion when they ask for an exemption from the vaccine requirement.

“In Kansas, an employee’s religious faith may not be put on trial in order to obtain the waiver to which the employee is entitled by law,” Schmidt said. “It is particularly distressing when a public-sector employer, an agent of the government, sits in judgment of the sincerity of an employee’s religious faith. Under the new law now in effect, that is not only distressing, it is also illegal.”

Both sides of the Kansas Legislature passed House Bill 2001 in Monday’s special session called specifically for the anti-vaccine mandate measures. Gov. Laura Kelly then signed the bill into law effective Tuesday. It allows employees to submit a written waiver request to employers requiring them to get vaccinated under certain conditions, such as a medical or religious exemption to getting the shot. It would also allow employees to bring a civil action to employers over damages brought on by such a violation.

Schmidt told employers that they should review their procedures for religious waivers and ensure they conform with the law since they could face civil penalties in court if they’re found to take illegal action against workers.

“The purpose of this new law is to protect workers, not to punish employers,” Schmidt said. “We seek compliance, not punishment.”

View the new vaccine exemption law as passed by lawmakers and signed by Kelly in its entirety by clicking below

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