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Proposed bill pushes back against vaccine mandates in Alabama — ‘I thought slavery ended in 1865’

A pre-filed bill in the Alabama House of Representatives would provide a legal avenue for workers to seek damages against their employers should they suffer adverse reactions resulting from employer-mandated vaccination.

The bill, HB 16, sponsored by State Rep. Tommy Hanes (R-Bryant), would provide a pathway for the worker or their family to sue the employer in the event that the mandated COVID-19 vaccine causes the employee “certain injuries or death.”

The bill reads in part, “An employee shall have a private right of action against an employer for any damages caused by an adverse reaction, injury, or temporary or permanent disability arising from an employer mandate that he or she receive a vaccination for COVID-19.” It further states, “Dependents of an employee shall have a private right of action against an employer for the death of the employee arising from an employer mandate that he or she receive a vaccination for COVID-19.”

Hanes tells Yellowhammer News that the bill’s intent is to protect workers from what he sees as an overreaching authority on behalf of employers, maintaining that “someone must be held liable” if individuals are caused harm stemming from mandated vaccination.

“Just because someone employs you does not mean they own you,” says Hanes. “I thought slavery ended in 1865. Mandating a vaccine is an invasion of personal privacy. Vaccines only provide protection to the recipient – it is a proven fact that [those] vaccinated [against] COVID-19 can still get the virus and can still spread it.”

The conservative lawmaker believes employer-mandated vaccination could prove to be a slippery slope that leads to broader intrusion into the private lives of workers.

He adds, “What’s next? Are they going to tell you how to spend your money because they sign your check? What I’m standing for is individual liberty. When you start infringing upon people’s liberties, freedoms and personal privacy you’re overstepping your authority as an employer. You’ve gone too far when you do that.”

Hanes contends that he is a staunch advocate for business and Alabama’s status as a right-to-work state, but maintains this does not grant employers the right to exercise the authority to mandate vaccination upon its workforce.

“Employers have rights but employees have rights too. They don’t have unlimited power over the worker. As long as a person has given a day’s work for a day’s pay, they’ve upheld their end of the bargain,” concludes Hanes.

The bill is cosponsored by State Reps. Andrew Sorrell (R-Muscle Shoals) and Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs).

HB 16 was filed prior to President Joe Biden earlier this month issuing an edict declaring that businesses that employ over 100 workers must force vaccination upon its employees or subject them to weekly virus testing.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL