Update: On Thursday January 13, the U.S. Supreme Court voted to block the Biden administration’s vaccine or testing mandate for large employers. This decision marks the end of the legal battle over the current iteration of the vaccine or test mandate. The Supreme Court overturned a decision made in December by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals which reinstated the mandate after it was temporarily halted by the Fifth Circuit in November.
On September 9, President Biden announced the “Path out of the Pandemic”, a set of wide-reaching regulations meant to contain the surge in cases of COVID-19 across the nation and move the country back towards normal. Amongst the announced regulations is a vaccine mandate for federal workers and contractors, healthcare workers, and employees of large businesses.
At the heart of these regulations is the directive to the Department of Labor to ensure that all businesses with 100 or more employees are either vaccinated or tested for COVID-19 on a weekly basis. This is estimated to cover over 80 million workers in the United States.
OSHA Issues an Emergency Temporary Standard
On Thursday, November 4th OSHA issued an emergency temporary standard (ETS) on the vaccine mandate. The ETS establishes binding requirements to protect unvaccinated employees of large employers (100 or more employees from the risk of contracting COVID-19 in the workplace.) The ETS preempts existing state and local laws. Although this ETS takes effect immediately, it also serves as a proposal under Section 6(b) of the OSH Act for a final standard.