The bill goes on to describe a cause of action for employees whose employers are found to have violated this section of the law. Also, it lays out a civil penalty of $10,000 per occurrence for those employers violating the law. On its face…bravo. But in reality, an employer providing a written statement to deny an exemption is not breaking the law and therefore, should incur no penalty.
What am I really saying here?
This bill is one big dog and pony show, and it is disgusting. There is not one matter of law that will change with the passage of this bill except to actually put into writing that an employer may as of right deny an employee’s religious exemption as long as it is done with a written statement.
But what you can count on when this bill does pass, and it will, is Governor Bill Lee making his rounds on national media about protecting the rights and religious liberties of healthcare workers and how Tennessee lawmakers have dealt a blow to the Biden administration’s egregious overreach into personal liberties. Great headline for a re-election campaign, isn’t it?
Here is a quick lesson in the current political landscape. When Senator Jack Johnson – also the Senate Majority Leader – carries a bill, it by default means that the Governor either supports the bill, or it is in fact a bill authored by his office. Why is that important here? Because now you know exactly who HB1867 really belongs to.
Keep in mind that the Governor’s office was vehemently against calling for a special session to address the COVID mandates. Governor Bill Lee continues to voice opposition to efforts to curb an employer’s ability to mandate these vaccines with the mantra, “we don’t regulate businesses here in Tennessee.” (paraphrasing)
And even now, the Governor’s office is flagging bills currently in the legislature that would secure some amount of medical freedom and communicating to legislators that the Governor does not support these measures as they are “restrictive” to business owners. More to come on that.
So, why would the Governor’s office support HB1867 now?
- It does nothing.
- It is going to make a great news headline.
This bill is dangerous. It is trash. It is political fodder. And it makes me sick.