COVID-19

Montana Alone in Banning Vaccine Requirements for Employees

Requiring vaccines as a condition for employment is deemed “discrimination” and a violation of the state’s human rights laws

By Associated Press
The Montana State Capitol building in Helena. Beacon File Photo

HELENA – While large companies across the U.S. have announced that the COVID-19 vaccine will be required for their employees to return to work in-person, there is one state where such requirements are banned: Montana.

Under a new law passed by the Republican-controlled Montana Legislature earlier this year, requiring vaccines as a condition for employment is deemed “discrimination” and a violation of the state’s human rights laws.

The law has raised concern among employers across the state as Montana struggles with a rise in COVID-19 cases that is once again straining the state’s health care system. Pushback swelled this week when physicians called on the Legislature to reverse the law.

“This is against everything we’ve ever known or believed about public health,” said Dr. Pamela Cutler, president of the Montana Medical Association, calling the law “a travesty.”

GOP lawmakers who supported the bill in the state Legislature said it was needed in response to employers “coercing” employees to get vaccinations. Some of the loudest supporters of the bill were employees of Benefis Health System in Great Falls who were told earlier this year COVID-19 vaccines would be necessary to keep their jobs.

Benefis was forced to backtrack on that plan when the law was signed.

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