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The Tennessee Conservative [By Paula Gomes] –
With President Biden signing Executive Order (EO) 14043, federal workers in Chattanooga, including all TVA personnel, are facing having to get fully vaccinated by November 22nd or finding a new job.
The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has issued guidance on how federal officials are to enforce the EO. Because employees will not be considered fully vaccinated until 2 weeks after their final dose (the second of 2 doses for Pfizer and Moderna, and the first dose for Johnson and Johnson) this means that in order for employees to meet the mandate’s deadline, they must complete the required vaccination dose(s) by November 8th.
Exceptions may be made only for individuals who receive a legally required exemption which must be approved under an established process of the agency.
Those employees who have religious objections to being vaccinated, for example, may choose to seek an exception due to Part 1605 of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which states that religious practices “include moral or ethical beliefs as to what is right and wrong which are sincerely held with the strength of traditional religious views” and that “the fact that no religious group espouses such beliefs or the fact that the religious group to which the individual professes to belong may not accept such belief will not determine whether the belief is a religious belief of the employee…”
According to an OPM memo, employees who refuse to be vaccinated or provide proof of vaccination are subject to disciplinary measures beginning November 9th. At that time, if the employee has not provided proof of vaccination and has not received an exception (and the agency is not considering an exception request from the employee) OPM recommends agencies begin the enforcement process with counseling and education.
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Their guidance to agencies states that they “should use the counseling period to remind the employee again of the vaccination requirement, emphasize that failure to comply will lead to discipline up to and including removal or termination, address any questions, and inform the employee that they will have a short period of time (e.g., 5 days) to submit documentation establishing either the initiation or completion of vaccination, as applicable, or request an exception.”
If, after this counseling and education period comes to an end, an employee continues to refuse to comply with the mandate, OPM suggests “a short suspension of 14 days or less” but if this also fails to convince an employee to comply then OPM says it is “an act of misconduct” and termination procedures will begin.
About the Author: Paula Gomes is a Tennessee resident and contributor to The Tennessee Conservative. You can reach Paula at email@example.com.