(Reuters) – Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who responded to what he called the "bullying" of the Biden administration, on Monday banned all COVID-19 vaccine mandates in the state from all entities, including private employers.
Mr. Abbott's decision puts him facing a clash with President Joe Biden, who last month called on companies across the country to order their workers to be vaccinated or lose their jobs. At least several thousand people have since been fired for refusing to follow.
"In another case of federal overreaction, the Biden administration is now bullying many private entities into implementing COVID-19 vaccine mandates, causing labor disruptions that threaten Texas' continued recovery from the COVID-1
The White House had no immediate comment.
Mr. Abbott's order states that "no unit in Texas" can force evidence of vaccination of any individual, including employees or customers. He urged state legislators to address the issue during an upcoming special session.
Tech giants Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.'s Google have both told employees they would need proof of vaccination to return to their offices. Both companies employ a large number in Texas.
Fort Worth-based American Airlines, the largest U.S. airline, told its 100,000 U.S. employees last week that they must submit proof of full vaccination by November 24 or get fired.
United Airlines introduced a vaccine mandate for its 60,000 employees, of which approximately 9,000 are based in Texas.
The company is defending a lawsuit in Fort Worth, and a federal judge on Wednesday will hear a request from United employees for an injunction to prevent the carrier from firing those requesting exemptions.
Mr. Biden issued his mandate in September as his administration fought to control the pandemic, which has killed more than 700,000 Americans.
Political leaders in the United States have increased the pressure on the unvaccinated in recent weeks.
Laws requiring evidence of vaccinations are deeply controversial in the United States, with many Americans criticizing them as constitutional and authoritarian. Advocates of vaccine mandates see them as necessary to pull the nation out of the nearly two-year pandemic and return to normal.