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Medical providers challenge law banning vaccine requirements

| September 24, 2021 7:00 AM

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Medical providers and Montana residents with compromised immune systems are challenging a state law that prevents employers from mandating vaccines for employees.

They argue the law passed by the 2021 Legislature violates federal requirements for safe workplaces and reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities, and want a federal judge to rule it doesn't apply to hospitals and other medical providers.

The Montana Medical Association, private physician groups, a Missoula hospital and five individuals filed the complaint in U.S. District Court in Missoula on Wednesday.

Montana's Republican-controlled Legislature passed a law that said requiring vaccines as a condition of employment is discriminatory and violates the state's human rights laws. Montana is the only state with such a law.

The complaint argues the new law prevents medical providers from taking steps to protect employees and patients who have compromised immune systems and also violates Occupational Safety and Health Act provisions that require employers to provide workplaces free from hazards.

It also argues the law violates the right to a clean and healthful environment under the Montana constitution.

The complaint names Attorney General Austin Knudsen and Commissioner of Labor and Industry Laurie Esau as defendants. Their offices did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday.