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Biden's Private Business Vax Mandate Now Official, Here's What You Need to Know About Religious Exemptions

President Joe Biden participates in a CNN town hall at the Baltimore Center Stage Pearlstone Theater, Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The Biden administration is officially publishing its rule mandating COVID vaccines for businesses with more than 100 workers on Friday. Employees will need to be vaccinated by Jan. 4 or get tested for the virus weekly. 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said companies that fail to comply could face penalties of nearly $14,000 per violation. It remains unclear how OSHA plans to enforce the rule. 

A senior administration official said the agency would target companies if it gets complaints.

The rule was posted to the Federal Register website Thursday. 

Private employees will need to receive either two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine by Jan. 4. Unvaccinated employees must submit a verified negative test to the company at least once a week and wear face masks on the job. Employees who test positive must be removed from the workplace.

OSHA is forcing businesses to provide paid time off for employees to get vaccines and sick leave to recover from side effects that prevent them from working. The requirements for masks and paid time off for shots will take effect on Dec. 5.

Because vaccines are free, OSHA said, companies do not have to provide or pay for tests.

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Other more stringent rules will apply to 17 million people who work in nursing homes, hospitals, and other facilities that receive money from Medicare and Medicaid. Those workers will not have an option for testing and will need to be vaccinated.

Religious Exemptions 

Religious exemptions to the vaccine mandate will be allowed. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), employees should notify their employer that "there is a conflict between their sincerely held religious beliefs and the employer's COVID-19 vaccination requirement."

On its website, the EEOC states, "The same principles apply if employees have a religious conflict with getting a particular vaccine and wish to wait until an alternative version or specific brand of COVID-19 vaccine is available."

The commission also suggests the "employer should provide employees and applicants with information about whom to contact, and the procedures (if any) to use, to request a religious accommodation."

According to the EEOC, "the employer may ask for an explanation of how the employee's religious belief conflicts with the employer's COVID-19 vaccination requirement." The website also notes employers should assess religious objections on an individual basis. 

But what do Christian legal groups say about how to get a religious exemption? Here are some useful resources you can click on to learn more: 

MORE FROM CBN NEWS 'Sincerely Held Belief' Key to Religious Objection over COVID Vaccine

Legal Challenges to Vax Mandates Already in Play 

Last month, Biden announced his controversial new executive orders mandating COVID shots for many private employees as well as all federal employees and contractors. His sweeping move of executive power could impact as many as 100 million Americans.

As CBN News has reported, Biden's mandate has been met with pushback from many Republican governors and others. 

At least 24 state attorneys general have announced their intent to sue the Biden administration if the mandate is implemented because the new requirements may conflict with state law. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) announced his state was joining the lawsuit on Wednesday.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis who sued the Biden administration last week over his separate mandate affecting federal contractors, responded to the administration's private business mandate Thursday, saying "Florida will be responding."

According to WJXT-TV, DeSantis was at an event in Jacksonville, FL when he said he doesn't believe the new rules will be enforced due to lack of authority. 

"They do not have the authority to unilaterally impose this through an executive agency like OSHA," DeSantis said. "They're abusing emergency power to be able to do what they would not be able to get through the Congress and do in a constitutional way. And so we are going to be challenging that and I think this rule is absolutely going down."

As CBN News reported, DeSantis also called state lawmakers to the Capitol to pass legislation to combat vaccine mandates enacted by private businesses. Lawmakers will be in a special session on Nov. 15, according to WJXT.

Meanwhile, a group of Senate Republicans has mounted a challenge, telling President Biden to stand down and back off of those mandates.    

"The idea that one man, the President of the United States can force Americans to choose getting a vaccine or keeping their job and putting food on the table for their family literally undermines all principles of liberty found in our Constitution," Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) told CBN News' Faith Nation on Wednesday.

The effort involves 41 Republican senators who say they're worried about possible unintended consequences of vaccination requirements on labor shortages and the economy.

The Alliance Defending Freedom, a non-profit religious rights law firm, and the Dhillon Law Group, Inc., representing The Daily Wire announced Thursday they have filed a legal challenge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit to the Biden administration's vaccine mandate.

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