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Hawaii bill would offer backpay to those fired over vaccine mandates

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Hawaii bill proposed to offer backpay to those terminated over vaccine mandates

During the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of workers were either forced to resign or were let go because they did not comply with vaccine mandates. Bill 52 would require those employees full back pay and/or the options to be put back in their original position.

HONOLULU (KITV) -- During the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of workers across the country were either forced to resign or were let go because they did not comply with their employer’s vaccine mandates.

Hawaii state lawmakers, Rep. Diamond Garcia and Sen. Brenton Awa introduced Bill 52, to, in their words, “right these wrongs”.

"We already had shortages in our state. There’s a first responder shortage, yet we fired police officers over a vaccine. I mean that is just unacceptable," Garcia said.

If passed, Bill 52 would require state agencies to offer those employees full back pay and/or the options to be put back in their original position.

More than 1,400 state jobs were lost from July 2021 to June 2022. However, state legislators said how many of those jobs are COVID-19 related is still unconfirmed.

"A number of things happened during the pandemic where you had a majority of people seeing things one way and a minority of voices that were so weak. Now that we’re in office, we're going to make sure they're represented,” Awa said.

Several people walking through Waikiki said they agree with this push as long as it is contingent with the number of COVID-19 cases.

“During the height, when we had no vaccine and people were literally dropping dead, I believe we had to instill something,” said Lisa Romano, member of the Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA).

California visitor Jim Rodriguez said he disagreed with this legislation. He said employees who lost their jobs had the choice to get vaccinated and keep their jobs. He believes these are simple consequences.

If Bill 52 becomes law, state agencies will have three months to offer their employees back pay and the other benefits they were entitled to prior to them leaving their positions.

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