American Airlines and Southwest Airlines said Tuesday they plan to follow federal guidelines to have their employees vaccinated against COVID-19 by December, defying an order by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to block such mandates.
American Airlines, based in Fort Worth, Texas, said in a statement to USA Today that the governor’s order “does not change anything” for the company and that it believes the federal vaccine mandate “supersedes any conflicting state laws.”
Southwest gave the news agency a similar response. The airline, based in Dallas, ordered all of its employees to get their COVID-19 shots by Dec. 8 to comply with a federal directive.
Last month, President Biden said all private companies with more than 100 workers must require employees be inoculated or undergo weekly testing for COVID-19.
The airlines’ plans to comply with the vaccine mandates conflict with Mr. Abbott’s order issued Monday that bans such requirements.
The order says that no entity in Texas can compel proof of vaccination by any person, whether for employees or customers. Those who fail to comply with the order could be fined $1,000, although it is unclear how the order would be enforced, U.S. News reported.
The Republican governor’s order says that while COVID-19 vaccines are “strongly encouraged,” they must “always be voluntary for Texans.”
Other companies in Texas that have COVID-19 vaccine mandates include Dell Technologies, Google and Facebook.
Google and Facebook announced the requirements for their employees in July, becoming some of the first companies to institute these mandates.
Steve Cave, an attorney with a specialty in government contracts, told U.S. News that the Texas order is more likely to be struck down than the federal order.
The supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution prohibits states from “interfering with the federal government’s exercise of its constitutional powers” and establishes that federal laws generally take precedence over state laws, according to the Legal Information Institute.