Nearly a year ago amid the throes of a spike in COVID, Austal USA and other recipients of federal money threatened their employees with termination if they did not comply with a federal vaccine mandate imposed by President Joe Biden.
Later that year, the Alabama Legislature passed a law defining vaccine mandate medical and religious exemptions and required companies to honor those exemptions.
However, Fairhope attorney Brian Dasinger, who represents plaintiffs in federal litigation against Mobile shipbuilder Austal USA and Spanish Fort nursing home Westminister Village for not honoring religious vaccine mandate exemptions, dismissed the efficacy of the 2021 law.
SEE ALSO: Fired Spanish Fort retirement community employees allege COVID vaccine mandate violated religious rights in lawsuit
According to Dasinger, the law has no enforcement mechanism to prevent private employers from terminating the employment of those who have declined to get the COVID vaccine.
During an interview with Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5, Dasinger asserted the law (SB9) was not "worth the paper that it is written on."
"It really does not, to be honest with you, because the state law that was enacted by the legislature in Alabama really, in our opinion, has no teeth whatsoever," Dasinger said. "I believe you're probably referring to Senate Bill 9, which was passed, I believe, in November of 2021. And it basically says that you can't discriminate against someone for religious purposes and that religious and medical exemptions need to be granted if they are legitimate. Basically, or supposedly, it provides for a mechanism of appealing a denial of religious or medical exemption to a specially appointed judge in Montgomery. And the judge is supposed to review it and make a decision whether it was wrongfully denied or not."
SEE ALSO: Terminated Austal employees sue, claiming company refused religious, medical vaccine exemptions
"However, the problem that we have with SB9 is that there are no penalties listed," Dasigner continued. "If the judge rules with you, there's really no mechanism for the company to be penalized for wrongfully denying the religious or medical exemption. So, in our opinion, it is not really worth the paper that it is written on. It's like saying, you know, murder is illegal but then having no penalties for committing murder. You can say what you did was wrong, but unless there are consequences, how is that going to deter any company from continuing to do it?"
To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email jeff.poor@1819News.com.
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