While many states have issued orders prohibiting inquiries about a person’s COVID-19 vaccination status, Georgia has been the first state to prevent public employers from requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp issued an executive order that, while somewhat vague, essentially prohibits “vaccine passports,” which is evidence of a COVID-19 vaccination, in the public sector. This ban restricts public employers from requiring their employees to use the COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of employment or from treating unvaccinated employees differently or disadvantageously compared to vaccinated employees. Accordingly, public employers cannot implement workplace rules (e.g. mask requirement) for unvaccinated workers, but not for vaccinated workers, unless these rules are only enforced with a code of ethics system.

While private employers in Georgia have more leeway in this regard (see guidelines on equal opportunities in employment), they are nevertheless restricted by the implementing regulation. If Georgia private employers decide to implement a vaccination record program, an order prohibits them from using data from the state vaccination database, the Georgia Registry of Immunization Transactions and Services (GRITS). This means that private employers cannot check the vaccination status of their employees with access to the state database. In practice, private employers have to obtain this information from another source, e.g. by asking their employees to provide proof of vaccination themselves or to accept employee proofs in the honor system.