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Arizona bill would require severance for employees fired over coronavirus vaccine mandates

The bill would provide people with severance compensation or re-employment if they were fired after refusing to comply with an employer's coronavirus vaccine mandate.

Published: March 3, 2022 11:36am

Updated: March 3, 2022 2:17pm

(The Center Square) -

An Arizona bill would provide people with severance compensation or re-employment if they were fired after refusing to comply with an employer's coronavirus vaccine mandate, and it has Republicans divided.

House Bill 2198, sponsored by state Rep. Steve Kaiser, R-Phoenix, came up for debate in the Arizona House of Representatives this week.

Kaiser argued that the bill is necessary to protect people's religious freedom and their ability to make ends meet. Kaiser doesn't believe workers should lose their jobs if an employer has denied their request for a religious exemption.

"A lot of folks are in industries possibly that could require this," he said on the House floor.

"They will have a tough time finding employment," he added. "So they will need time to find employment."

However, at least one of his Republican colleagues is skeptical of the bill: Rep. David Cook, R-Globe.

Cook voiced a few different concerns on the matter: the existence of unemployment benefits, the court system, and Arizona’s status as a right-to-work state.

“Are we, as a legislature, trying to circumvent the court system and reward a non-litigated compensation fee?” he asked during the hearing.

On the issue of Arizona being a right-to-work state, he argued that employers should be able to hire and fire who they want.

"How do we stand in a right-to-work state?” he said. “You have the right-to-work for a business, and that business has the right for an employee to be discharged based on what they want, so it goes both ways in a right-to-work state.”

The bill has not been voted on in the Arizona House of Representatives yet.

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