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Texas governor urges workers to report employers ‘illegally’ mandating vaccines for prosecution

This story, originally published in The Dallas Morning News, is reprinted as part of a collaborative partnership between The Dallas Morning News and Texas Metro News. The partnership seeks to boost coverage of Dallas’ communities of color, particularly in southern Dallas.

Gov. Greg Abbott’s order banning any organization from issuing vaccine mandates for workers came in response to federal rules currently stalled in court.
Pharmacist Henna Choi
Pharmacist Henna Choi of Parkland Hospital prepares a Pfizer vaccine during a vaccination clinic hosted by Parkland Hospital in Glenn Heights at the Glenn Heights Senior Center on Sept. 11.(Ben Torres / Special Contributor)

By Dom DiFurio

Texas businesses received a letter from the Texas Workforce Commission on Wednesday reminding them of the governor’s executive order restricting their ability to mandate vaccines for workers.

The letter also urges workers to report their employers to a newly created hotline and email address if they are subjected to a vaccine mandate at work that would violate the executive order. Verified tips will be passed along to “the appropriate authorities for prosecution,” the letter states.

“Since day one, the state of Texas has taken a stand against the federal government’s unconstitutional COVID-19 vaccine mandates in the workplace, three of which have since been deemed illegal by federal courts,” Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement.

The governor’s order failed to be codified as law in the last legislative session, but the order is still in effect. The order says no entity in Texas — including private employers — can compel any individual to take the COVID-19 vaccine if the person cites a medical, religious or any other personal reason for exemption. The order carries a $1,000 fine.


“We have now created a hotline for employees to report illegal vaccine mandates in Texas. While I encourage Texans to get the COVID-19 vaccine, it will always be voluntary, and never forced, in Texas, and we are committed to ensuring Texans’ livelihoods are not jeopardized by federal overreach,” Abbott said.

Abbott’s order was enacted in response to the Biden administration’s announcement of new rules mandating vaccines for federal employees and workers at private employers with more than 100 workers. The federal order would be enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and would allow employers who do not wish to mandate the vaccine to test employees regularly for COVID-19 instead.

Conflicting mandates from a Democratic administration and Republican state officials pushing back have sown confusion among Texas business owners, though legal experts have said any federal mandate would supersede state orders.

As the new omicron variant concerns public health experts, the White House has struggled in its efforts to boost vaccinations among the public. The Biden administration’s mandate is stalled in federal court, and the Senate voted Wednesday to overturn the order.

Some large North Texas employers have already voluntarily mandated vaccinations for employees, including Dallas-based AT&T, and the Dallas Regional Chamber has distanced itself from Abbott’s ban on vaccine requirements for employers, arguing that companies should have the right to choose what is best for them.


The home health care and nursing home industry has pushed back against vaccine mandates, saying they would jeopardize staffing levels in a tight labor market. In the airline industry, though, American Airlines CEO Doug Parker has said the company’s own vaccine mandate has not slowed hiring.

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