Michigan bill seeks to bar employers, including hospitals, from requiring vaccines

Lawmakers in Michigan are set to consider legislation that would bar employers in the state, including those at hospitals, from being able to require staff be vaccinated against the coronavirus as a condition of employment.

According to a local Fox affiliate, the legislation, also known as House Bill 4471, is scheduled for committee debate on Thursday. If passed, the bill would prohibit employers discharging, failing or refusing to hire an individual because they haven’t received the coronavirus vaccine.

Employers would also be barred from requiring unvaccinated staff to wear surgical masks as “a consequence” for not receiving a vaccine and disclosing to the public that the individual “has not received or declines to receive a specified vaccination,” among other restrictions. 

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The bill states that those “aggrieved” by a violation of the act may pursue a civil suit for injunctive relief and damages.

“A court shall award costs and reasonable attorney fees and may award treble damages to a person who prevails as a plaintiff in a suit authorized under this act,” the bill, which is scheduled to take effect 90 days after enacted into law, adds.

The bill’s restrictions also cover vaccinations for influenza, tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.

In a statement obtained by the local station, state Rep. Beth Griffin (R-Mich.), who is among more than a dozen Republicans and a single Democrat co-sponsoring the bill, said the legislation is intended to prevent unvaccinated people from losing their jobs.

“Hospitals are looking at reduced staff and stressed employment levels by forcing this on the people that are left that have been through hell,” she told the station, adding that she is “hearing from people that are scared.”

The legislation has drawn criticism from local health leaders, who warn of the dangers such measures could pose on the fast-spreading delta variant, which has fueled a surge in coronavirus cases in parts of the nation.

“Is the next thing the legislature going to decide what medication we can give and cannot give based on science out there?” Adnan Munkareh, who serves as executive vice president and chief clinical officer at the Henry Ford Health System, which requires staff be vaccinated, said in remarks obtained by the station.

“Wearing a mask is a medical decision within our hospitals at the present time,” he added.