By Iris Samuels (Fortune.com)
*Link to full article here: https://fortune.com/2021/08/20/montana-first-us-state-to-ban-covid-vaccine-requirements-employees/
While many large companies across the U.S. have announced that COVID-19 vaccines will be required for their employees to return to work in-person, there is one state where such requirements are banned: Montana.
Under a new law passed by the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature earlier this year, requiring vaccines as a condition for employment is deemed “discrimination” and a violation of the state’s human rights laws.
Montana is the only state in the U.S. with a law like this for private employers, said Hemi Tewarson, executive director of the National Academy for State Health Policy.
The law has raised concern among employers across the state as Montana struggles with a rise in COVID-19 cases that is once again straining the state’s health care system.
Pushback swelled this week when physicians called on the Legislature to reverse the law.
“This is against everything we’ve ever known or believed about public health,” said Dr. Pamela Cutler, president of the Montana Medical Association. “I believe it’s a travesty now and it needs to be fixed so that we can make our offices safe for patients and our coworkers.”
GOP lawmakers who supported the bill in the state Legislature said it was needed in response to employers “coercing” employees to get vaccinations under threat of termination. Some of the loudest supporters of the bill were employees of Benefis Health System in Great Falls who were told earlier this year that COVID-19 vaccines would be necessary to keep their jobs.