File - Gilbert businesses

Businesses in downtown Gilbert, Arizona.

(The Center Square) – State Representative Quang Nguyen introduced a bill to prevent Arizonans from being required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of their employment.

House Bill 2043 holds employers liable for at least $500,000 in damages if an employee is denied a religious exemption and suffers significant injury caused by the mandated vaccine. The employee could also seek punitive damages in cases of egregious or malicious conduct, the news release said.

The Prescott Republican called the legislation “one of the most important bills” he will introduce in the 2022 session.

“The reality is COVID-19 is going to be with us for a long time,” he said. “Public and private health mandates are not a good solution and could instead cause harm in some cases.”

The federal government has granted liability protection to some COVID-19 vaccines, which has limited the number of individuals affected employees can seek to hold accountable for an injury. Current law only allows affected individuals to seek recourse through the workers’ compensation system.

HB 2043 creates a separate pathway for employees to take action if they have been denied a religious exemption and subsequently suffered a significant injury due to the mandated vaccine.

“If businesses and employers are intent on mandating vaccinations as a condition of employment, they should be held accountable if their employees face serious harm or illness,” Nguyen said.