On November 5, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) published a vaccination mandate requiring all employers of 100 or more employees to be vaccinated or show a negative COVID-19 test each week. While the mandate allowed for extremely narrow exceptions, OSHA estimated that the mandate would apply to 84.2 million employees. Failure to comply with the mandate would result in large fines for employers and “removal from the workplace” from employees.
On January 13, 2022, the Supreme Court blocked the vaccination mandate, noting that the mandate is not an ordinary exercise of power, but rather a “significant encroachment into the lives—and health—of a vast number of employees.” The Court found that the Secretary of Labor’s mandate exceeded its authority granted by the Occupational Health and Safety Act to set safety standards relating to the workplace by attempting to instead “set broad public health measures.” Although the Court blocked the mandate for all workplaces, it allowed a vaccine mandate to stand for medical facilities that take Medicare or Medicaid payments.
If you have any questions or need any employment law advice please reach out to Natalie Shrader or Schuyler D. Geller.