Texas Governor Greg Abbott has prohibited "any entity" (or any person) from requiring vaccines. This could be a problem for business owners.
Abbott, who has been vaccinated on Monday, stated in an executive order that no entity in Texas could compel the receipt of COVID-19 vaccines by anyone, even employees or consumers. Although the order encourages Texans to receive vaccines, it states that they are optional.
Abbott's fiat creates problems of executive authority, and conflicts between federal and state guidelines, according to Jennifer Spiegel Berman (CEO of MZQ consulting in Baltimore) and an employee benefits lawyer. She says that the fallout will cause problems for business owners. Federal contractors working in Texas may be violating federal regulations, by following federal ones.
Recent President Biden issued several mandates for vaccine and testing. One of these mandates is to be implemented by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. This applies to companies with over 100 employees. Both this executive order and Abbott's will likely be challenged. Berman said she wouldn't be surprised to see either go to the Supreme Court.
The result was whiplash. She says, "There will be one million lawsuits." "We are all scratching our heads." She advises Texas-based business owners to "think very carefully" when implementing a mandate for vaccines.
Southwest Airlines, a Dallas-based carrier, has issued a mandate to employees for vaccinations. In a statement, Southwest Airlines tells Inc. that the federal guidance "supersedes any state law or mandate, and we would expect to comply with the president’s order to continue to be compliant as federal contractors."
Jerome D. Love believes that the Texas ban on vaccine mandates will not be good for Texas business. Texas Black Expo is a Houston-based non-profit that encourages entrepreneurship in Black and other minority communities. Love is also the founder and president. Love also owns several real-estate firms. He says, "It is a bit shortsighted and it really is just an economic move."
Love believes that more people need to be vaccinated in an era when supply chain problems and shortages related COVID-19 are threatening the economy's ability to recover. It will be difficult for him to raise funds for his organization if he fails to do so. He also said that the ban on mandated vaccines could reduce tourism.
Love also understands the dangers of vaccine hesitancy. Before he decided to get the vaccine, Love sought medical advice from experts. He has not felt the need for a mandate because most of his employees, both part-time and full-time, are also vaccinated.
Lauren Berk is the chief operating officer of Wello, a Dallas-based company that offers technology for workplace safety and OSHA compliance. Wello doesn't have a mandate for vaccines. Management has instead tried to encourage employees to get vaccinated by requiring shots for business travel. Many view this as an added perk to their jobs.
Wello also offers tools to help companies track the vaccination status of employees, and others in company buildings. Berk states that there has been an "overwhelming" interest in the product lately. This is a reflection of confusion around compliance issues regarding vaccine and testing mandates.