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U.S. Supreme Court stays enforcement of OSHA vaccine mandate

On January 13, 2022, the United States Supreme Court issued an order and opinion that implemented a stay of enforcement of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (“OSHA”) Emergency Temporary Standard (“ETS”) that was applicable to employers with one hundred (100) or more employees. The ETS mandated that covered employers implement and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, requiring employees to receive the vaccine or, in the alternative, to test for COVID-19 infection on a weekly basis and wear a face covering while at work. Importantly, as part of the Court’s opinion, it found that the parties challenging the ETS are likely to succeed on the merits of their claim that the Secretary of Labor lacked authority under the OSH Act to impose the mandate. This means that should the case be fully litigated, the ETS is likely to be found unenforceable.

The Court allowed the enforcement of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) vaccination mandate to go into effect. As such, healthcare employers covered by the CMS vaccination mandate will need to comply with the mandate or face the possibility of enforcement action. Additionally, while the federal contractor mandate has been stayed by lower courts, the U.S. Supreme Court did not address that mandate. Finally, nothing in the Court’s decision impacts an employer’s ability to lawfully implement its own mandatory vaccination policy.

If you have questions about the impact of the Court’s decision on your workplace, or COVID-19 policies generally, please contact a member of Stock and Leader’s Employment Team.

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