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AG Knudsen Issues Further Legal Guidance on the Biden Vaccine Mandate for Federal Contractors

HELENA – Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen issued legal guidance today on the status of the Biden administration’s federal vaccine mandate for federal contractors. Today’s guidance follows Attorney General Knudsen’s initial guidance issued earlier this month to help Montana workers understand their rights.

Biden’s claims in his September 9 speech that federal contractors will be subject to mandatory vaccination requirements for their workforce were misleading. The administration’s Executive Order 14042 is directed at federal agencies – not federal contractors – and plainly states that the order only applies to new federal contracts or agreements or renewals of existing ones.

“By the plain language of the President’s Executive Order, there is no vaccination requirement imposed on existing federal contractors. It does not, and cannot, require federal contractors with existing agreements with the federal government to discriminate against their employees based on vaccination status,” Knudsen’s guidance states. “If the federal government has not executed a new contract with a federal contractor, then the President’s Executive Order simply does not apply. In such an instance, Montana law applies, and discrimination based on vaccination status is illegal.”

The Biden Executive Order also does not apply to federal grants, Indian tribes under the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, contracts or subcontracts whose value is equal to or less than the simplified acquisition threshold, or subcontracts solely for the provision of products.

Anyone suffering discrimination by an employer based on their vaccination status should contact the Montana Human Rights Bureau at 406-444-2884. A formal complaint must be filed with the Bureau within 180 days of the alleged discriminatory action. For more information on filing a complaint, click here.

Attorney General Knudsen continues to fight two lawsuits challenging the new state anti-discrimination law established by House Bill 702. Last week, he filed for the dismissal of a meritless lawsuit against Montana’s vaccine passport ban. House Bill 702 remains the law in Montana.

Immediately following Biden’s September 9 speech, Attorney General Knudsen announced he would file a lawsuit when the federal rule was issued. Additionally, he and 23 other state attorneys general warned Biden that this “disastrous and counterproductive” mandate would only drive more Americans from the job market, further burdening the health care system and the economy.

Click here to view Attorney General Knudsen’s guidance for federal contractors.