COVID-19 Vaccine and Mask Mandates - Comparison of Select States

Stoel Rives - World of Employment

California

While there is no statewide vaccine or testing mandate, California has implemented a statewide indoor mask mandate regardless of vaccination status through at least February 15, 2022. In addition, Cal-OSHA has recently updated its Emergency Temporary Standards Relating to COVID-19. These standards set forth requirements for employers relating to COVID-19 and include requirements regarding (1) communicating to employees regarding COVID-19, (2) identifying COVID-19 hazards in the workplace, (3) face covering requirements, (4) ventilation requirements, (5) training employees regarding COVID-19 safety, (6) addressing COVID-19 cases in the workplace (including employer notification requirements), (7) testing requirements when there are COVID-19 cases in the workplace, (8) dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks in the workplace, (9) excluding employees from the workplace due to COVID-19 concerns and the obligation to compensate these employees, (10) recordkeeping and reporting requirements, and (11) employer provided housing.

Minnesota

Like other states, MNOSHA has suspended its enforcement of its COVID-19 Vaccinating and Testing ETS following the January 13, 2022 Supreme Court decision. However, MNOSHA strongly encourages all employers to continue to implement the requirements of the ETS and MNOSHA will continue to enforce all employers' obligations under the general duty clause and its general standards, including the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Respiratory Protection Standards.

While there is currently no statewide vaccine or testing mandate in Minnesota, several municipalities in the metro area have implemented indoor mask mandates and vaccine/testing requirements, including Minneapolis and St. Paul. The Minneapolis mask mandate applies to all spaces of public accommodation, while the St. Paul mask mandate applies only to City-controlled property and businesses licensed by the City. The vaccine/testing requirements apply to Minneapolis and St. Paul restaurants, bars, and other businesses that serve food or drinks (i.e. cafes, arenas, entertainment and wedding venues, catering halls, movie theaters, and bowling alleys). The Minneapolis mandates last indefinitely, while the St. Paul mandates last until at least February 14, 2022.

Oregon

Oregon OSHA announced publicly that it will not adopt an ETS-like vaccine mandate. Still, employees, contractors, volunteers, etc. in health care setting with possibility of patient contact (broadly defined) must be fully vaccinated unless a reasonable accommodation applies. Teachers/school staff/volunteers as well as employees in the Oregon executive branch, judicial department, and various localities like Multnomah County must also be fully vaccinated unless a reasonable accommodation applies

Utah

In November 2021, the Utah Legislature passed a bill (SB 2004) requiring employers (with 15 or more employees) to “relieve” an employee or prospective employee of any vaccine requirements if the (prospective) employee submits a statement that the requirement would 1) be injurious to the health or well-being of the (prospective) employee; 2) conflict with a (prospective ) employee’s sincerely held religious belief, practice or observance or 3) conflict with a sincerely held personal belief of the (prospective) employee.

The law also requires employers to pay for any testing they require employees (e.g., instead of vaccination). Finally, it prohibits employers from “keeping or maintaining a copy of an employee’s proof of vaccination,” unless required by law or an established business or industry practice. The law expressly allows employers to record employees’ vaccination status.

Washington

Washington employers are required to adhere to the Department of Labor and Industries’ Requirements and Guidance for Preventing COVID-19. These include requiring face coverings or masks for all employees (and customers) in indoor spaces accessible to the public and outdoor events of 500+ people; keeping employees with possible or confirmed cases of COVID-19 from working around others; providing handwashing facilities and supplies; and training employees to recognize and respond to workplace hazards, including COVID-19. In addition, a new law called the Health Emergency Labor Standards Act (HELSA) requires Washington employers with 50+ employees to notify L&I within 24 hours of any outbreak of COVID-19 involving 10+ employees and to notify employees and union representatives of any potential exposures at work to COVID-19. HELSA also prohibits employers from discharging, replacing, or discriminating against high-risk employees for seeking accommodations or using leave to protect against COVID-19.

While there is no comprehensive vaccine mandate in Washington, Governor Inslee’s Proclamation 21-14.3 mandates vaccination against COVID-19 for all workers in most State agencies, healthcare settings (including long-term care facilities), and educational settings (including K-12, universities, preschools, daycares, and other educational programs). While exemptions to the mandate for religious or disability-related reasons are permitted, employers are prohibited from “rubber stamping” such requests under the Proclamation.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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