- Wednesday, October 6, 2021
- View recording below
Under the mandate announced by the White House in September, all employers with 100 or more workers would have to require that their workers be vaccinated or undergo at least weekly Covid-19 testing. Employers that don’t comply can face fines of up to about $14,000, according to the administration.
As companies grapple with questions about the Covid-19 vaccine mandate, one they face is how to respond to employee requests for exemptions based on religious grounds.
Above is a recording of the discussion on vaccines and religious accommodation with Richard Foltin and Kent Johnson from Oct. 6, 2021.
Richard T. Foltin is a Fellow with the Freedom Forum’s Religious Freedom Center. Previously, he served in a number of positions at the American Jewish Committee (AJC), most recently as director of national and legislative affairs in the AJC’s Office of Government and International Affairs in Washington, D.C., from 2009 to 2018. In that last role, Mr. Foltin was responsible for a broad range of AJC policy and legislative activities, including religious liberty, civil rights, immigration, energy security, and combatting domestic antisemitism and anti-Israel boycott efforts. Prior to coming to AJC, he was an associate with the litigation department of Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, a New York law firm.
Mr. Foltin has testified before congressional committees and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, including at several congressional hearings on religious discrimination in the workplace. He serves on the governing council of the American Bar Association’s Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice and as co-chair of the section’s Religious Freedom Committee; he previously served as chair and co-chair of the section’s First Amendment Rights Committee. Mr. Foltin is a member of the Committee on Religious Liberty, founded by the National Council of Churches and today convened by the Religious Freedom Center of the Freedom Forum Institute. A native of New York City and a child of Holocaust survivors, Mr. Foltin received his B.A. magna cum laude with honors in Political Science from New York University and his J.D. cum laude from Harvard Law School. He is a member of the bars of New York State, Washington DC, and the U.S. Supreme Court.
Kent Johnson is the Senior Corporate Advisor for the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation (RFBF). In that role he helps companies design and implement best practices regarding religious diversity and inclusion and promotes authenticity and connection among employees across the belief spectrum in ways that strengthen recruitment, engagement, retention, morale, ethics and personal fulfillment. Kent also helps companies navigate their legal obligation to accommodate employees’ religious expressions and practices while carefully avoiding any impression of compulsion to participate in or agree with them.
Before joining RFBF, Kent served for 37 years as a senior legal counsel at Texas Instruments Incorporated, where, in different assignments over the years, he had responsibility for legal support of nearly all of TI’s businesses and its worldwide ethics, quality, corporate responsibility and risk management functions. He also helped launch the company’s faith-oriented employee resource groups and served as Chair of the TI Diversity Network.
A member of the Texas and American Bar Associations, Kent graduated with honors from Dartmouth College and from Villanova University School of Law.