Vegans who object on ethical grounds to receiving COVID-19 vaccines in the United Kingdom have raised the issue loudly enough that it has recently garnered coverage from several top media outlets there.
The issue is whether British employment law would shield employees from being forced to take a "jab" over their objections -- possibly linked to animal testing of vaccines -- that mirror the views of those taking exception on religious grounds. It could affect American companies in that country and possibly those in the U.S. if the issue is raised here.
Here's how the U.K. Evening Standard framed the issue:
An estimated half a million Britons who do not consume animal products would not have to adhere to so-called "jabs for jobs" rules under employment laws, it has been claimed.
Big firms, including Netflix and Google, have already told many US staff they must be vaccinated before returning to work and Foreign secretary Dominic Raab said on Thursday that the rule was "smart policy."
"While the UK Government has introduced legislation stating care home staff must be jabbed. The Covid vaccine does not contain animal products, but all medications currently go through animal testing. Ethical veganism was ruled to be a protected characteristic at a tribunal last year.
"A spokesman for Lewis Silkin, a law firm, told the Telegraph: 'Some ethical vegans may disagree with vaccinations on the basis that they will inevitably have been tested on animals. Ethical veganism has previously been found to amount to a belief, capable of being protected.'"
"The protections mean that vegans and people in other categories, including some religious groups as well as those with certain disabilities or medical conditions, could mount a claim of constructive dismissal if forced to get the jab.
The issue has not yet been as high profile in the U.S., but with an increasing trend of companies requiring employees to become vaccinated to return to work, similar issues related to religious objectors -- and possibly groups such as vegans -- could surface soon.
Here's how the issue was summarized by the Prinz Law Firm in Chicago:
"Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, individuals have the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of religion. As part of their religious beliefs, many individuals object to vaccines. Employers are required to accommodate religious observances and practices, unless doing so imposes an undue hardship on the business.
"Religion" is very broadly defined and encompasses not only organized religions, but also informal beliefs. "Religion" under the law can also encompass non-theistic and moral beliefs.
In Chenzira v. Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, 2012 U.S. Dist. Lexis 182139 (S.D. Ohio, 2012), the court recognized that veganism, in some circumstances, may constitute a sincerely held religious belief. That court exempted an employee from a flu shot requirement.
Once an employer determines that a true religious exemption exists, the employer must make an accommodation for the employee. Such accommodations may include reducing a mask requirement, modifying work duties to comply with social distancing, adjusting an employee's schedule, or allowing an employee work from home."
Florida sets record for most new COVID cases during the pandemic — as GOP governor rages against masks
The state of Florida on Saturday reported the most new daily cases of coronavirus during the entire history of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Miami Herald reports.
Florida reported 21,683 new cases to the Centers for Disease Control, which is 12.1% higher than the previous record that was set on January 7th.
"The last half of July looks like the start of Florida's third COVID-19 peak, as the case numbers reported Thursday (17,093), Friday (17,589) and Saturday mix in with Jan. 6-8 to comprise the top six individual case count days. The average over the last seven days is 15,817 cases," the newspaper reported.
The record number of cases was reported one day after Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that whether students follow CDC mask guidance will be up to their parents.
"DeSantis, an outspoken critic of mask recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters and a cheering, largely maskless crowd that he did not believe masks were necessary to prevent children from transmitting the virus in classrooms, even as the state reported more than 21,000 infections among children younger than 19 this week," The Washington Post reported Friday.
"Shortly after the news conference in Southwest Florida, DeSantis signed an executive order that allowed the state's education official to withhold funds to school boards that impose mask mandates in violation of the new rules," the newspaper reported. "State Republican leaders backed DeSantis, as the party has doubled down on resisting federal public health recommendations."
GOP chooses to ‘coddle domestic terrorists’ because Trump ‘turned Republicans upside down’: analysis
Republicans were harshly criticized for their newfound hatred of law enforcement in a new column by Maureen Dowd published by The New York Times.
Dowd noted how supporters of Donald Trump downplayed the testimony of four police officers who testified on Tuesday about their efforts to defund the U.S. Capitol during the January 6th insurrection.
"When it came down to it, the question of whether Republican lawmakers in the House would side with Donald Trump or the police who risked their lives defending them, it wasn't even a close call for the law-and-order party," Dowd wrote. "The G.O.P. overwhelmingly stuck with Trump, perpetuating his sick mythology about a day we all saw with our own eyes. Twenty-one House Republicans even voted against awarding congressional gold medals to the police officers who responded on the day of infamy."
She noted that Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) referred to the jailed insurrectionists who sought to overturn the election, which was won by Joe Biden, as "political prisoners."
"Since when do Republicans care more about criminals in jail than the cops who put them there? Since when do they coddle domestic terrorists? Since Donald Trump," she wrote. "How rich that Cadet Bone Spurs, who spends his days watching himself on TV and puttering around in a golf cart, belittles cops who bravely took beatings from the mob he sicced on them. It's gobsmacking how easily Republicans swap their values for Trump's voters."
Read the full column.
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