Tennessee Special Session on COVID19 Policies - Update:

COVID-19 Advocacy Chamber News Release

Key items our members should be aware of in regards to what policy was passed during the Special Session on Covid19.


Tennessee Special Session on COVID19 Policies - Update:

Here are key items our members should be aware of in regards to what policy was passed during the Special Session on Covid19.

1. Proof of Vaccination Ban

  • Private businesses, governmental entities, public schools, or districts “shall not compel or otherwise take an adverse action against a person to compel the person to provide proof of vaccination if the person objects to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine for any reason.”
  • This means a private business can require vaccinations and ask for proof of vaccination but cannot compel an employee or customer to provide proof.
  • A private business cannot take any adverse action against an employee who refuses to get a vaccination.
  • Entertainment venues can ask for proof of a negative test and can take a volunteered COVID-19 vaccination card instead of proof of a negative test.

2.  Mask Mandate Ban

  • A governmental entity shall not require a person to wear a mask as a condition to access its premises or facilities or to receive the benefits of its products or services.
  • An employer that is a governmental entity shall not require an employee to wear a mask as a term or condition of employment or take adverse action against an employee for failing to wear a mask unless “severe conditions” exist when the requirement is adopted. The requirement during severe conditions would be in effect for not more than 14 days.
    •  A “severe condition” is when the governor has declared a state of emergency and a county has an average rolling 14-day COVID-19 infection rate of at least 1,000 new known infections per 100,000 county residents.
  • Private businesses can still implement a mask mandate.


3.  Exemptions

  • The Comptroller can issue a one-year exemption for employers, governmental entities, or private employers that can prove they will lose federal funding because of vaccine- or mask-mandate bans.
  • This exemption applies to the proof of vaccination ban and the mask mandate ban.
  • The Comptroller will create guidelines for companies to follow and the process for companies to apply for an exemption.
  • The exemption can be renewed at the end of the year in the same manner for which it was applied.


4.  Unemployment

  • A claimant who left employment because their employer required employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, and the claimant failed or refused to receive a vaccine is not disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits.
  • Unemployment benefits will not be reduced or denied to an otherwise eligible claimant who left employment due to the claimant’s failing or refusing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • These claims can be retroactive.

5.  Private Right of Action

  • A person injured due to a mask mandate or proof of vaccination mandate is entitled to maintain a private right of action for injunctive relief and recover damages and reasonable attorneys’ fees against the issuer if the issuer is not exempt.
  • The previously passed COVID-19 liability shield does not protect private businesses, governmental entities, public schools, or districts. However, they can now be liable for damages if an employee or customer can show that the damage came from a COVID -19 incident and have a certified letter of good faith from a health care provider or physician that demonstrates by clear and convincing evidence of an act of gross negligence or willful misconduct by the business lead to the incident.
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