Schmidt to Kansas employers: Questioning religious exemption now illegal

Kansas AG Derek Schmidt visited with WIBW Wednesday. (June 16, 2021)
Kansas AG Derek Schmidt visited with WIBW Wednesday. (June 16, 2021)(WIBW)
Published: Nov. 24, 2021 at 4:10 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt is advising the state’s employers to not question employees who use religion to opt out of the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

In a release sent Wednesday, Schmidt’s office says it’s now illegal for employers to require employees requesting a waiver to complete detailed questionnaires about their religious beliefs or require those same requests to go before a review committee or procedures.

“In Kansas, an employee’s religious faith may not be put on trial in order to obtain the waiver to which the employee is entitled by law,” Schmidt said. “It is particularly distressing when a public-sector employer – an agent of the government – sits in judgment of the sincerity of an employee’s religious faith. Under the new law now in effect, that is not only distressing, it is also illegal.”

Schmidt said on Wednesday that his office was contacting public-sector employers that may be in violation of the new law and advising them to stop.

The Attorney General went on to say any employee who feels their employer is violating the new law may file a complaint with the Kansas Dept. of Labor.

“The purpose of this new law is to protect workers, not to punish employers,” Schmidt said. “We seek compliance, not punishment. So, I encourage all Kansas employers, whether public or private, to immediately review their policies and procedures and conform them to the requirements of the new law in order to respect the religious liberties of Kansas workers as the law requires.”

The new legislation became law on Tuesday after a special session of the Kansas Legislature passed two bills that requires all public or private sector, to accommodate employee requests for relief from COVID-19 vaccine requirements on the ground that the requirement would violate a sincerely held religious belief of the employee and forbids employers from “inquiring into the sincerity of the request” by the employee.

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