No Jab, No Job? You Could Be Fired For Defying Covid Rules Under New Illinois Law
If you refuse to be vaccinated or comply with workplace covid mandates, you could be fired from your job in Illinois, according to a new law in the state.
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker has signed into law an amendment to the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act allowing employers to penalize employees if they refuse to follow workplace rules about covid, including mandatory vaccinations, testing, and other mandates.
The Health Care Right of Conscience Act amendment bans employees from using their moral beliefs as a reason to refuse to comply with a workplace’s covid mandates, which could include mandatory vaccinations.
“Masks, vaccines, and testing requirements are life-saving measures that keep our workplaces and communities safe,” said Pritzker, who added he was grateful that the act “is no longer wrongly used against institutions who are putting safety and science first.”
The law doesn’t take effect until June 1, 2022. However, the law could go into effect on Jan. 1, 2022, if there is a new vote that garners greater support within the Illinois House and Senate. Pritzker would be expected to sign that into law should the vote take place to push up the mandate.
“We have effective tools to fight this pandemic — namely, vaccines, masks and testing — and all of our communities are safer when we use the public health and workplace safety protocols we know to work,” said Pritzker in a statement. “… This legislation clarifies existing law’s intent without infringing on federal protections. Ultimately, this means we can keep kids in school, businesses open, neighbors safe, and continue on the path to bring this pandemic to an end.”
The Health Care Right of Conscience Act has actually been a law since 1998 and was driven by healthcare providers having moral objections to performing abortions. It was originally put into place to protect health care providers — doctors, nurses, etc. — from being forced to perform medical procedures such as abortions if they opted out due to moral objections.
Over the years, the parameters of the law have been stretched to include other procedures, and, in past two years, the law has been loosely applied to include moral objections to covid-19 mandates based on medical applications such as mandatory vaccinations and covid tests.
According to reports, Gov. Pritzker had been working behind-the-scenes to revise the law to allow employers greater leeway in disciplining employees who refuse to adhere to covid mandates in the workplace.
The new amendment is expected to face many lawsuits and legal challenges after it’s implemented. Other states around the country which have tried to take similar actions have faced lawsuits under the Civil Rights Act, and two cases invoking the U.S. Constitution’s Free Exercise of Religion clause are proceeding in Maine and New York.
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