How are government mandates good for business?

It’s not business as usual at the Arizona State Capitol.

Several bills have been introduced this session that fit a common theme: more government intrusion into the workplaces of private employers; new regulations undermining the ability of job creators to define their own policies; and the threat of costly litigation, heavy financial penalties, or even criminal charges against employers who simply act in the best interests of their employees and their businesses.

Danny Seiden

More directly: these measures aim to punish employers who require vaccination against COVID-19 as a condition of employment.

I understand that policy makers may have honest differences of opinion on vaccine mandates. The chamber spoke out clearly following a decision by the Biden administration to implement a “vaccine or test” mandate without consulting the business community or the nation’s governors. Job creators should have the power to set their own workplace policies. Allowing these federal mandates to stand would have set a troubling precedent for future, heavier government excess over private corporations.

The House applauded the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last month to block the administration’s rule, and free enterprise advocates in Arizona and across the country collectively agreed: The ruling was a victory for private employers and their authority to run a business without the heavy hand of government. get in the way.

Now, many of the same lawmakers who argue that government doesn’t have to dictate workplace policies to private employers are leading state legislature efforts that would do just that.

Many of these measures are pushed by the Legislative Assembly under the guise of religious freedom, medical freedom and personal choice. Under such a proposalArizona companies would be liable for $500,000 in damages — at a minimum — if they deny a religious exemption from an employee who later suffers a “significant injury” as a result of the vaccine (regardless of whether the project of law never defines “significant injury”.

I want to be clear: if companies violate religious freedoms, they are already breaking existing law, and they should be held accountable. If employees are injured as a result of a workplace policy, they should seek redress and be compensated appropriately.

We already have longstanding federal and state laws in place to address religious discrimination and workers’ compensation. We should not create new avenues to sue employers.

Meanwhile, a separate bill introduced this session states that any company that fires an employee for not receiving a vaccine as a condition of employment should either pay that individual an annual severance pay salary or rehire the employee. employed in the same or similar position.

Not only does the language of this bill apply broadly to any termination of employment — not just wrongful termination — but it also ignores that some industries remain subject to federal vaccination requirements. . Under this legislation, these companies would be forced to choose between complying with federal law or state law — an impossible “prosecuted if you do, prosecuted if you don’t” scenario.

Last year, the Legislature enacted common-sense liability protections for employers, shielding Arizona businesses from frivolous litigation and rightly recognizing that the proper avenue for dealing with employee claims was through the system. Arizona workers compensation. The House and the broader business community have strongly supported this bill.

Ironically, some of the same lawmakers who helped lead these efforts are championing legislation that encourages more lawsuits and more government intrusion. In some cases, one would think that these bills were drafted by unions or litigators, and not by legislators who claim to be champions of employer freedom.

Whether it’s the federal government telling companies they must require vaccines or the state legislature telling companies they can’t, a warrant is a warrant. And we will continue to let lawmakers on both sides know that private sector job creators will stand up to government excesses, whether they come from Washington, DC or the state Capitol.

Danny Seiden is President and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

About Jefferey G. Cannon

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