Supreme Court to Hear Arguments on Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccine Policies

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On January 7, 2022, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) will hear oral arguments regarding a COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that would require employers with 100 or more employees to protect an estimated 84 million workers from COVID-19 by complying with the ETS, according to an article on SCOTUSblog.com.

On November 5, 2021, OSHA published the ETS in the Federal Register and required employers in the U.S. with more than 100 employees to mandate that their employees be either vaccinated against COVID-19 or tested weekly and wear masks at work. Employers had to comply with most requirements of the ETS within 30 days of publication and with testing requirements of the ETS within 60 days of publication, which was January 4, 2022.

On November 12, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit granted a motion to stay OSHA’s COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard. The Fifth Circuit ordered that OSHA “take no steps to implement or enforce” the ETS “until further court order.” As a result, OSHA suspended activities related to the implementation and enforcement of the ETS pending future developments in the litigation.

On December 17, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit dissolved the Fifth Circuit’s stay of OSHA’s COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard. To provide employers with sufficient time to come into compliance, OSHA will not issue citations for noncompliance with ETS requirements before January 10, 2022, and will not issue citations for noncompliance with ETS testing requirements before February 9, 2022.

“The challengers went quickly to the Supreme Court, filing over a dozen separate requests asking the justices to block the 6th Circuit’s ruling. The 6th Circuit’s ruling reviving the mandate will remain in force until the Supreme Court acts on the challengers’ request, although OSHA has indicated that it will not issue citations for failure to comply with the rule until January 10 at the earliest,” according to the article on SCOTUSblog.com.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees and OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for workers. To help businesses implement the ETS, OSHA offers a webinar, frequently asked questions (FAQs), and compliance materials. To learn more about OSHA – which is part of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) – visit www.osha.gov.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a potentially deadly respiratory illness that spreads from person to person. As of January 6, 2022, there are approximately 298 million global cases and 5.4 million global deaths, while the United States leads the world with approximately 57 million cases and 832,000 deaths, according to the COVID-19 Dashboard by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU).

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a service offering of ClearStar, a leading provider of Human Capital Integrity℠ technology-based services specializing in background and medical screening – offers a white paper about “Due Diligence and Background Checks in the Age of Coronavirus” and posts numerous blogs about how COVID-19 has impacted employers. To learn more about background screening, contact ESR today.

Citation: Amy Howe, Justices will hear arguments on Jan. 7 in challenges to Biden vaccine policies, SCOTUSblog (Dec. 22, 2021, 8:55 PM), https://www.scotusblog.com/2021/12/justices-will-hear-arguments-on-jan-7-in-challenges-to-biden-vaccine-policies/.

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