- The Supreme Court recently blocked OSHA’s federal vaccination mandate.
- The order requires employers at large companies to require employees to get vaccinated or get tested weekly and wear masks.
- While courts will not allow enforcement of OSHA authorizations, companies can still develop their own authorizations.
Supreme Court blocked on January 13, 2022 The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) prohibits mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for employees of large companies. However, the ruling has created some confusion as some companies, such as United Airlines, have enacted mandates while others are planning to implement them.
Some companies that require employees to vaccinate are scrapping their policies because of a new Supreme Court ruling. New York Times Starbucks, which plans to implement the vaccine mandate, told employees this week that it was ending the vaccination requirement in light of the court ruling, the report said.
However, the court’s ruling does not mean that your employer needs to cancel their assignments, nor does it prevent them from implementing new assignments.
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“What the court’s ruling does is prevent OSHA from enforcing the vaccine mandate,” Timothy Taylor, an employment and litigation partner in the Tysons, Virginia office of the law firm Holland & Knight, told VigorTip. “Companies, as long as they don’t violate local or state law, can still impose mandates on their employees — with some exceptions.”
OSHA requirement temporarily overturned
The court is responding to a case submitted to it regarding OSHA’s decision to issue “Emergency Interim Standards” (ETS) that would require companies with at least 100 employees to mandate vaccinations or weekly testing (plus mask wearing) for their employees . ETS includes religious and medical exemptions.
But in its 6-3 ruling, the court said ETS was in fact a public health measure that exceeded OSHA’s purview to regulate occupational hazards.
“While Congress indisputably gave OSHA the power to regulate occupational hazards, it did not give the agency the power to regulate public health more broadly,” the court wrote in its majority opinion.
Is the Employer’s COVID Vaccine Authorization Legal?
Technically, the court’s ruling is actually that an ETS cannot take effect while a case against it is going through a lower court. But many labor lawyers, including Taylor, argue that the arguments in the majority opinion mean that if the case does go back to court, it will again rule against OSHA’s mandate.
In a statement released the day the court issued its ruling, President Joe Biden still urged the company to issue the mandate.
“The court ruled that my administration cannot use the powers Congress has granted it to demand this measure, but that doesn’t stop me as president advocating for employers to do the right thing to protect the health and economy of Americans,” Biden said.
what does this mean to you
If your company has a COVID-19 vaccination requirement, they can still enforce it despite the latest Supreme Court ruling. You can find vaccine appointments near you here.
Employers can still enforce where local and state laws allow
While some states such as Montana and Tennessee have banned vaccinations, there is no federal law against them, according to Amanda Sonneborn, J.D., a partner in the global human capital practice of the Washington, D.C., law firm King & Spalding.
“Employers can still require employees to get vaccinated, but they can’t point to OSHA as the reason they’re doing it,” Taylor added. “They need to consider the possible consequences.”
Employees may leave for jobs that do not require vaccinations. On the other hand, some customers may avoid businesses with unvaccinated employees.
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Georges Benjamin, M.D., executive director of the American Public Health Association, told VigorTip that public health experts are concerned that the confusion surrounding the Supreme Court ruling could lead people to think they’ve been given a no-vaccination pass.
He said some employers have been or are considering increasing the vaccine booster requirement, which APHA plans to ask for its employees soon.
Type of work matters
Sonneborn noted that a Biden administration could try to rewrite the rule more strictly.In a separate ruling issued the same day, the court ruled that health care providers that receive funding from Medicare and Medicaid (a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) were able Require employees to be vaccinated.
The court explained that the difference between the two decisions was the nature of the work.
“we agree…… [Health and Human Services] The minister’s rules fall within the powers conferred on him by Congress. After all, ensuring that providers take steps to avoid spreading dangerous viruses to patients is in keeping with the basic principles of the healthcare industry: First, don’t hurt‘ the judges wrote.
More hospitals now require healthcare workers to get COVID-19 vaccines
For other occupations, COVID-19 risk may also play a role in the appropriateness of vaccine authorization.
“In theory, the White House could create vaccine-enforced rules for businesses that pose a specific risk from COVID-19, such as in meatpacking plants, where employees work closely together and may be more likely to spread the virus to colleagues,” said primary care physicians from the Obama administration and Health policy adviser Kavita Patel, MD, MPH, told VigorTip.
Employers who do have vaccine requirements “need to be mindful of disability and religious discrimination laws, and consider exceptions for vaccinations, testing, or mask wearing if employees say they are violating those rights,” Taylor said.
Taylor added that some states may try to create or expand their own mandates, making it harder for employers in some states to enforce vaccine requirements and easier in others.
Experts still support mandate
Public health experts hope employers’ vaccine mandates can change vaccination rates — even if it’s not perfect.
“Even if the court rules in favor of OSHA’s mandate, we’re still far from herd immunity because it’s not a hard mandate; it requires a vaccine or weekly testing/masks,” Patel said.
So how do experts advise officials to try to increase vaccination rates now?
“In order to get more people vaccinated, we have to have vaccine requirements in all areas of life, such as social events like gyms and restaurants,” she said. “If you start increasing the requirements for the way people want to participate in society, then you How will increase vaccination rates.”
The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means that you may have updated information as you read this article. For the latest updates on COVID-19, visit our Coronavirus news page.