By Christine M. Zinter
NW law Firm
A federal judge in Georgia placed a nationwide injunction on the Biden Administration’s vaccine mandate for federal contractors. As noted in our previous alert, a federal judge in Kentucky enjoined the mandate in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio last week. The mandate, which was set to take effect on January 4, applies to roughly one-quarter of the U.S. workforce affecting companies that do business with the federal government. In Tuesday’s nationwide order, the court told the Biden administration that “limiting relief to only those before the Court would prove unwieldy and would only cause more confusion.”
The government contractor mandate spurred a series of federal lawsuits from states seeking to block its implementation, including Arizona, Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, and Georgia. They argue that the Administration lacks the authority to require vaccinations and that such mandates violate the Constitution. U.S. District Judge R. Stan Baker at least partially agrees, writing, “In this case, plaintiffs will likely succeed in their claim that the president exceeded the authorization given to him by Congress through the Federal property and Administrative Services Act when issuing Executive Order 14042” which implemented the mandate. White House press secretary Jen Psaki has said the Justice Department will “vigorously defend” the mandate in court.
The mandate for businesses providing services for the federal government is part of a suite of Biden administration actions to increase America’s vaccination rates. That includes an emergency regulation from OSHA that would cover private-sector companies with 100 employees or more and require healthcare companies receiving funds from Medicare and Medicaid to vaccinate their workforce fully. With today’s decision, all three prongs of the Administration’s efforts to push companies to make sure employees are vaccinated have been enjoined on a nationwide basis.
While continuing to uphold private employer mandates as within the right of business to set the terms of employment, the Courts have now blocked all of Biden’s vaccine mandate attempts for exceeding executive branch authority and usurping states’ power over health policy. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ordered the injunction of the OSHA mandate citing “serious constitutional concerns.”
Meanwhile, at the local level, Oregon’s state OSHA plan recently updated its website to state that it is continuing “discussions with stakeholders,” but it did not adopt a state rule by the original December 4, 2021 deadline. Should any rule be adopted, Oregon OSHA promises to adjust timelines accordingly. Federal courts have upheld Governor Brown’s Executive Order mandating the vaccination of Executive Branch employees, teachers, school staff and volunteers, health care providers, and health care staff.
If employers have any questions about these legal developments or how to comply with COVID-19 mandates and guidelines, contact Bullard Law.
The content of this Alert is provided for general information purposes only. It should not be considered legal advice or used as a substitute for consulting an attorney for legal advice.
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