covid-19 vaccine

New Amendment Limits Conscious-based Vaccine Objections in IL

The Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act was first passed in 1977 in an effort to protect health care workers from discrimination based upon their refusal to participate in the delivery or receipt of health care services that they deemed “contrary to their conscience.”

The Illinois Health Care Right of Conscious Act

However, as of late, some non-healthcare workers in Illinois have been relying upon this Act in an effort to claim that they are exempt from their employers’ COVID-19 vaccination or testing requirements. Under the Act, broad language was used to prohibit discrimination “against any person in any manner” who refuses to “obtain, receive or accept” health care services or medical care. Many employees have gone so far as to claim that their employers’ policies violated their rights under the Act.

In response to this issue, on November 8, 2021, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed an amendment into law related to the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act. This amendment prevents employees from being able to use the Act in order to avoid their employers’ COVID-19 vaccine or testing requirements. This amendment to the Act is set to go into effect on June 1, 2022.

The Amendment

The amendment that is set to take effect next June clarifies the Act further to explain that it is not a violation of the Act for an employer “to take [or enforce] any measures or impose any requirements…intended to prevent contraction or transmission of COVID-19 or any pathogens that result in COVID-19 or any of its subsequent iterations.”

The amendment explains that it is clarifying existing law and is not a new law being enacted. But, since the amendment isn’t set to go into effect until next June, employees still have a large amount of time to continue citing their exclusion under the Act and bringing a lawsuit should their objection be denied. 

The Federal Vaccine Mandate

However, with a federal vaccine mandate going into effect at the beginning of the year, it may supersede state law, anyone, nullifying employees’ objections under the Act anyway.

Things may get even more confusing for employers who operate in multiple states since different states have different approaches to belief-based objections to employer vaccination-related mandates. If this is the case, they should consult with legal counsel to be sure that they remain compliant with all relevant laws.

The IL Employment Law Attorneys at ST Legal Group Can Help

If you have been terminated from your job and believe that it is because of an illegal reason (a state-protected reason or a reason related to you belonging to a protected class of people), you should be able to remedy the situation through monetary compensation and/or reinstatement to your position. A knowledgeable and experienced Illinois employment law attorney can help you to fight for what you deserve. The qualified attorneys at ST Legal Group can help to protect your employment rights. To learn more, or to schedule a consultation, contact us today!