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Biden’s Vaccine Mandate: Many Federal Workers Now Seek Religious Exemptions

On Monday, the Biden administration argued that the federal government had all the authority it needed to require large employers to mandate vaccination of their workers against the COVID-19 virus. (Photo: New York Times)

With a Monday deadline approaching, many federal employees are reporting that they have received coronavirus vaccinations. However, tens of thousands of workers have sought religious exemptions. This move could jeopardize President Biden’s broad authority to restore regular operations to the country’s biggest employer.

Vaccine-skeptics have been flooding federal agencies’ inboxes with requests for concessions that would enable them to continue working without getting vaccinated rather than risk being fired, as the administration has threatened. Officials noted that fewer workers had requested medical exemptions, resulting in more clear-cut choices on whether or not to grant them.

Federal employee union representatives told The Washington Post that religious objectors span from a few hundred at the Education Department to tens of thousands at the Bureau of Prisons, employing 38,000 employees.

New York Healthcare Workers

Demonstrators protesting against novel coronavirus vaccine mandates. (Photo: AP)

How to Apply For COVID-19 Vaccine Exemption

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which monitors civil rights laws in the workplace, amended its rules on requesting a religious exemption for a coronavirus vaccination at the end of October. Anyone requesting an exception must inform their employer, according to the government. Still, there are no “magic words” that must be used in making the request. According to the EEOC, employers should also provide a route ahead, such as alerting employees who to contact and what processes to follow.

Some individuals have offered advice on what to say or do to guarantee that their request for religious accommodation is approved in Facebook groups. According to NPR, these blogs often include false information regarding embryonic cells or connections to churches and other persons who give signed exemption papers for a fee.

ALSO READ: Federal Appeals Court Temporarily Halts Biden’s COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate For Businesses

Religion Exemption to Vaccine Explained

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, according to labor and employment attorneys at Perkins Coie in Seattle, permits employees to seek an exemption to a job requirement if it “conflicts with their genuinely held religious beliefs, practices, or observances.”

However, a Miami Herald report said determining what constitutes an honestly held religious belief in the eyes of the state might be difficult. According to Perkins Coie, religious views often involve the ultimate ideals about life and a moral or ethical belief system. 

Religion, according to the Perkins Coie, does not simply refer to conventional, organized faiths. It also covers religious views that aren’t affiliated with a formal church or sect and those that are novel or unusual.

That implies there may be just one adherent, or the religion could seem irrational and ridiculous to others. However, the legal firm claims that it would still be protected under Title VII.

However, there is a difference to be made between religious views and “personal, social, political, or economic views.” According to Perkins Coie, these factors are not grounds for a legal exemption. That implies that an employee’s concerned about getting vaccinated because the hurried vaccine testing processes would not be considered.

RELATED ARTICLE: Biden Vaccine Mandate: Republicans Say $14,000 Fine Unconstitutional