ASSEMBLY, No. 5611

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

219th LEGISLATURE

INTRODUCED MAY 12, 2021

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman† SERENA DIMASO

District 13 (Monmouth)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

†††† Prohibits certain colleges and universities from discriminating against certain students.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

†††† As introduced.

††


An Act concerning colleges, universities, and COVID-19 vaccines and supplementing Title 18A of the New Jersey Statutes.

 

†††† Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

†††† 1.††† a.† As used in this section:

†††† "College or university" means a county college, an independent institution of higher education, a public research university, or a State college, which receives State or local funds, either directly or indirectly, including, but not limited to, appropriations, grants, and reductions of or exemptions from State or local taxes, including, but not limited to, local property taxes and the sales and use tax.

†††† b.††† Each college or university shall be prohibited from directly or indirectly:

†††† (1) requiring the administration of a coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine to a student as a condition of the studentís admission, enrollment, eligibility for and receipt of financial aid, or access to room and board through the college or university;

†††† (2) taking adverse actions against students who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine, including, but not limited to, imposing disciplinary action or restricting those studentsí ability to: †

†††† (a) access and use college or university buildings and structures, including, but not limited to, the gymnasium or library;

†††† (b) attend in-person or online classes;

†††† (c) choose courses and majors;

†††† (d) attend or participate in college or university activities, graduation ceremonies, groups, organizations, programs, or sports;

†††† (e) work on campus; or

†††† (f) participate in on-campus or off-campus learning opportunities and internships or teaching assistant positions;†† †

†††† (3) causing students who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine to receive diminished grades for coursework; or

†††† (4) causing students who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine to have restricted access to administrative services, including, but not limited to, letters of recommendation, diplomas, transcripts, or other records.

†††† b.††† Each college and university shall develop, implement, and enforce policies which strictly prohibit discrimination against students who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine.

†††† c.†††† Each college and university shall be prohibited from directly or indirectly asking a student whether the student received a COVID-19 vaccine.

†††† d.††† Each college and university shall be prohibited from directly or indirectly disclosing information as to whether students have received a COVID-vaccine in the event that the college or university is apprised of such information.†

†††† e.†††† Each college and university may coordinate with an organization that supports the rights of an individual to choose whether the individual receives a COVID-19 vaccine to prevent discrimination against students who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine.†††

 

†††† 2.††† A college or university which discriminates against a student who has not received a COVID-19 vaccine in violation of this act shall, in addition to any other relief authorized by law, be liable for civil damages to the student in the amount of $25,000 in an action brought in the Superior Court in the county where the offense occurred to be used for the studentís college or university tuition.† In addition to an award of civil damages, the court shall order the college or university to pay such attorney's fees or expenses, or both, that are actually and reasonably incurred by a student who is the successful party in the action.†

 

†††† 3.††† This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

†††† This bill prohibits certain colleges and universities from discriminating against certain students.

†††† The bill defines "college or university" to mean a county college, an independent institution of higher education, a public research university, or a State college, which receives State or local funds, either directly or indirectly, including, but not limited to, appropriations, grants, and reductions of or exemptions from State or local taxes, including, but not limited to, local property taxes and the sales and use tax.

†††† Under the bill, each college or university is to be prohibited from directly or indirectly:† (1) requiring the administration of a coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine to a student as a condition of the studentís admission, enrollment, eligibility for and receipt of financial aid, or access to room and board through the college or university; (2) taking adverse actions against students who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine, including, but not limited to, imposing disciplinary action or restricting those studentsí ability to:† access and use college or university buildings and structures, including, but not limited to, the gymnasium or library; attend in-person or online classes; choose courses and majors; attend or participate in college or university activities, graduation ceremonies, groups, organizations, programs, or sports; work on campus; or participate in on-campus or off-campus learning opportunities and internships or teaching assistant positions; (3) causing students who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine to receive diminished grades for coursework; or (4) causing students who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine to have restricted access to administrative services, including, but not limited to, letters of recommendation, diplomas, transcripts, or other records.

†††† The bill provides that each college and university is to develop, implement, and enforce policies which strictly prohibit discrimination against students who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine.† Each college and university is to be prohibited from directly or indirectly asking a student whether the student received a COVID-19 vaccine.† Each college and university is to be prohibited from directly or indirectly disclosing information as to whether students have received a COVID-vaccine in the event that the college or university is apprised of such information.† Further, each college and university may coordinate with an organization that supports the rights of an individual to choose whether the individual receives a COVID-19 vaccine to prevent discrimination against students who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine.†††

†††† Under the bill, a college or university which discriminates against a student who has not received a COVID-19 vaccine in violation of the billís provisions is to, in addition to any other relief authorized by law, be liable for civil damages to the student in the amount of $25,000 in an action brought in the Superior Court in the county where the offense occurred to be used for the studentís college or university tuition.† In addition to an award of civil damages, the court is to order the college or university to pay such attorney's fees or expenses, or both, that are actually and reasonably incurred by a student who is the successful party in the action.†