On June 15, 2021, Missouri Governor Mike Parson signed Bill 271 prohibiting any county, city, town, or village government receiving public funds from requiring citizens to have COVID-vaccination documents. 19 (commonly referred to as “vaccine passports”). Additionally, under the new law, citizens of Missouri must be allowed to access any building, transportation system, or service without showing proof that they have received the vaccine. While Missouri is following in the footsteps of other states such as Texas, Florida, and Montana, this new law is more focused and does not apply to private businesses and employers.
Currently, Missouri employers are still able to require workplace vaccinations, per recently released EEOC guidelines stating that vaccination requirements are valid in the workplace, subject to medical accommodations. or reasonable religious. A federal judge recently relied on advice from the EEOC to dismiss a lawsuit filed by more than 100 nurses and other healthcare workers who opposed their employer’s mandatory vaccination policy.
The guidance of the EEOC is consistent with the needs of a country still in the midst of immunization deployments and the desire for increased participation. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have emphasized that immunization status is important and relevant in determining whether masks and social distancing are still needed while businesses and organizations are opening up to pre-pandemic levels. Employers who choose to use vaccine requirements may want to ensure that their processes for requesting reasonable accommodation for disability and religious belief comply with the law and are supported by clear communication and documentation.