The Department of Homeland Security has been at least the 20th federal agency in the creation or proposal of tracking lists for employees who request religious accommodation under the COVID-19 vaccination mandate.
A rule placed in the Federal Register on Friday allows the DHS “to collect and maintain records on employees and applicants for employment” that are seeking certain religious and medical accommodations. The federal workforce still has a vaccine mandate.
“This notice also clarifies DHS’s collection, use, maintenance, and dissemination of records needed to process, manage, maintain, and resolve reasonable accommodation requests based on a medical condition/disability or a sincerely held religious belief, practice or observance,” the proposed rule says. “This modified system will be included in DHS’s inventory of record systems.”
Public comment on the DHS rule will close May 2.
The Daily Signal reported that in January, at least 18 federal agencies had established rules to monitor religious accommodations for the COVID-19 vaccination. Department of Justice, Department of Health and Human ServicesThe Department of Transportation, and Department of the Treasury. The Pretrial Service Agency was a small federal agency that was first reported by the Daily Signal. The Daily Signal reported that the Commerce Department was trying to track both religious exemptions and medical exceptions.
Sarah Parshall Perry (legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation), the parent organization behind The Daily Signal, stated that such rules should be a cause for concern.
“Collecting data on religious objections – and not just for the vaccine – means the Biden administration is creating a blacklist of federal employees,” Perry told The Daily Signal. “To have one massive database with every federal employee and applicant that has requested religious accommodations is concerning.”
Last week, Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kansas, introduced legislationFederal employees may not request religious accommodation.
There are many rules that vary between agencies. Generally, the agencies plan to collect religious affiliation, the reasons given for religious accommodations requests, names, dates of birth and addresses that could be shared between federal agencies, according to Marshall’s office. The notices also generally don’t explain if it will store the data, why agencies need to share the data, or why it’s needed beyond the decision to grant or deny an employee’s religious accommodation request.
“These accommodation requests include, but are not limited to, requests for modifications to workplace safety protocols and related to public health mitigation measures, such as use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), physical distancing, immunization requirements, testing, travel, and quarantine requirements,” the propose DHS rule says.
The proposed rule continues: “By requesting an accommodation, employees or applicants for federal employment are authorizing DHS to collect and maintain a record of the information submitted to support the medical condition/disability or religious accommodation request.”
The Department of Homeland Security didn’t respond to our inquiry regarding this story.
The law allows for data to be used for medical exceptions. This is because employers may need to make physical accommodations in order for employees with disabilities or illnesses. However, gathering information about religion raises legal and constitutional issues.
The federal government is the largest employer in the United States and has been for many years. tens of thousandsRequests for religious accommodations to avoid the vaccination were received.
Marshall, who introduced legislation in March 23, was supported by eight senator Republicans.
“As a nation founded on religious freedom, citizens should be confident in their government’s handling of information related to their religious beliefs and how they apply to their personal medical decisions,” Marshall said in a statement last week, before the proposed DHS rule.
“Instead, we have an administration that has pursued a coercive federal approach to mandatory vaccination, including fear of retribution for exercising this religious freedom,” Marshall continued. “I’m proud to lead on legislation to ensure federal agencies are not exchanging and tracking Americans’ private information following the request of a religious accommodation or exemption, opening up the door for instances of discrimination based on individuals’ beliefs in the future.”
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