Requires employers who mandate proof of COVID-19 vaccination to grant medical/religious exemptions

State: TN
Bill Number: HB 1867/SB 1823
Position: WATCH
Action Required: Contact your legislators with concerns on HB 1867/SB 1823
Status: Enacted, SB 1823 Pub. Ch. 644, effective 3/11/2022, HB 1867 substituted by SB 1823

Legislation Details:

UPDATE: 3/16/2022 - SB 1823 was enacted as Public Chapter 644, effective 3/11/2022. 

News articles -

UPDATE: 3/11/2022 - SB 1823 was signed into law by the Governor. 

In its final form, the bill requires employers to grant medical and religious exemptions to employees. Medical exemptions must be signed and dated by a licensed healthcare provider, and religious exemptions require no further proof beyond a person's initial statement. 

Employers must act within two business days of receiving an exemption request, and may not turn it down without a written explanation. They may not fire or reduce compensation for employees who request exemptions. 

The bill provides a $10,000 civil penalty for violating these provisions, and allows the attorney general to prosecute. 

The bill states that healthcare providers who provide medical exemptions are (1) acting within their authorized scope of practice, (2) immune from civil liability, and (3) immune from disciplinary action by a health-related board.  

UPDATE: 3/1/2022 - SB 1823 passed in the House on 2/24/2022 and was enrolled on 2/28/2022

UPDATE:  2/23/2022 - SB 1823 is on the Senate Regular Calendar for 2/24/2022 at 3:30 AM.

UPDATE:  2/18/2022 - HB 1687 is on the House Regular Calendar for 2/24/2022 at 9:00 AM.

UPDATE: 2/17/2022 - HB 1867 is on the Regular Calendar for the House Calendar & Rules Committee for 2/17/2022.

UPDATE:  2/15/2022 - SB 1823 passed the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee with amendments in an 8-1 vote. Amendment was to conform language to HB 1867.

UPDATE:  2/10/2022 - HB 1867 is scheduled for a hearing in the House Commerce Committee on Tuesday, Feb. 15th at 10:30 AM in House Hearing Room I.  Agenda - and SB 1823 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee on Tuesday, Feb. 15th at 1:00 PM in Senate Hearing Room I. Agenda -

An amendment has been filed for both of these bills.  See the text here - 

NVIC Advocacy still takes a watch position on the proposed amended version version because:

1. Medical and religious belief exemptions can still be denied - See bottom of page 2 and top of page 3 that states:

(c) An employer described in subsection (b) shall not:

(1) Take longer than ten (10) business days to grant or deny the staff member's request for an exemption; -

(2) Deny a request for an exemption without providing a written statement explaining why the request was denied

2. The medical exemption places restrictions on medical exemptions that go beyond what is allowed by federal law.  See page 2 that requires: 

(1) The staff member's request for a medical exemption is supported by a statement signed and dated by a physician licensed under title 63, chapter 6 or 9 that the staff member has a condition recognized under generally accepted medical standards as a basis for the medical exemption and provided by the physician pursuant to Section 2 of this act.

3. The new law would only apply to those requesting an exemption after the date the new law goes into effect.  Those who were already fired can reapply for their job if they were fired, however the bill does not require an employer to change a determination made prior to the effective date of this act.  See bottom of page 3:

(2) Notwithstanding subdivision (d)(1)(B), a staff member who was terminated for not complying with a COVID-19 vaccine mandate and that termination would have been covered by this section may reapply for employment and shall not be denied employment solely because the staff member sought an exemption prior to the effective date of this act.

NVIC Advocacy does support language on the religious exemption that states - (4) For an exemption based on a religious belief pursuant to subdivision (b)(2), require the staff member to provide further proof beyond the staff member's initial statement that the staff member has a sincerely held religious belief that prevents compliance and should be granted an exemption.

In addition, see this article written by Gary Humble - When people are hurting and in need of reprieve, there is no more dubious of a response to that outcry than the gift of false hope. And when it is done intentionally, especially by lawmakers who have sworn an oath to protect the liberties of people, it stirs up a righteous anger, as it should.

UPDATE:  2/3/2022 HB 1867 is scheduled for a hearing in the House Civil Justice Committee on Wednesday, Feb. 9th, at 12:30 PM in House Hearing Room III. Hearing Information:

UPDATE:  1/27/2022 - HB 1867 had a hearing in the Civil Justice Subcommittee meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 1st, at 9:00 AM.  The bill will now go to the full Civil Justice Committee.  You can watch the video of the hearing here - The sponsor is working on an amendment and another friendly amendment was offered.  

The purpose and intent of this bill is to make sure healthcare workers subject to the CMS COVID-19 Vaccine mandate that is working it's way through the courts are granted medical and religious exemptions that are required under Federal Law.  We will post the amendments when they are made available. 

HB 1867 was introduced on 1/20/2022 and is sponsored by Rep. Zachary.  SB 1823 was filed on 1/20/2022 and is sponsored by Senator Johnson

HB 1867/SB 1823 would in part, add a new section to the law passed in 2021 that prohibits adverse action against a person who objects to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine for any reason.  The new section would allow an employer to mandate COVID-19 vaccine if they provide exemptions for "valid" medical reasons or religious beliefs. This new proposed language conflicts and restricts the good law that was passed.


SECTION 1. Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 14, Chapter 6, is amended by adding the following as a new section: (a) An employer that requires a person to provide proof of vaccination or requires an individual receive the COVID-19 vaccine must grant the person an exemption to the policy if: (1) The person provides a valid reason for a medical exemption supported by a statement that has been signed and dated by a licensed healthcare provider; or (2) The person states that the person has a religious belief which prevents the person from complying with the policy. HB1867.pdf (

EXISTING LAW that was enacted last year states: 

14-2-102. COVID-19 vaccine status. (a) A private business, governmental entity, school, or local education agency shall not compel or otherwise take an adverse action against a person to compel the person to provide proof of vaccination if the person objects to receiving a COVI D-19 vaccine for any reason. (b) Allowing a person to voluntarily provide proof of vaccination or proof of COVID-19 antibodies instead of a negative COVID-19 test in order to gain admission to a place of entertainment, as defined in§ 47-25-512 is not a violation of this subsection (a). (c) Notwithstanding subsection (a), a person is not prohibited from requiring another person to provide proof of vaccination as a condition to entering that person's personal residence for purposes of providing products or services.  pc9006.pdf ( - text, status and history for HB 1867 - text, status and history for SB 1823