The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, has again stayed Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) attempt at enforcing its COVID-19 Vaccine and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), which OSHA first published on November 5, 2021. This matter will now return to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit for further proceedings. But, for now, large employers across the nation are relieved of OSHA’s January 10 and February 9 compliance deadlines.

The high court determined that the applicants were likely to succeed on the merits of their claim that the Secretary lacked authority to impose the mandate set forth in the ETS, concluding that the Secretary’s order for 84 million Americans to either obtain a COVID-19 vaccine or undergo weekly medical testing at their own expense was no “everyday exercise of federal power,” and instead, was a “significant encroachment into the lives—and health—of a vast number of employees.”

In finding that the Occupational Safety & Health Act did not plainly authorize the ETS, the Supreme Court determined that the standards outlined in the ETS were intended to regulate a broad public health measure, exceeding the agency’s authority to regulate workplace safety standards. The majority opinion noted that while COVID-19 was certainly present in the workplace, it was not limited to simply an occupational hazard and could also be spread in homes, schools, during sporting events, and in other places where individuals gather. As stated in the decision, “Permitting OSHA to regulate the hazards of daily life – simply because most Americans have jobs and face those same risks while on the clock – would significantly expand OSHA’s regulatory authority without clear congressional authorization.”

Continue Reading U.S. Supreme Court Halts OSHA’s COVID-19 Vaccine and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard

On January 7, the Supreme Court heard an oral argument regarding the applications for an emergency stay of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) as well as the regulations issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. As we recently reported here, pending a ruling to the contrary by the Supreme Court, the ETS is currently in effect in the 29 states operating without a state-run OSHA Plan.

The remaining 21 states with approved State Plans must first adopt the ETS or a standard that is at least as effective. It is our understanding that federal OSHA has signaled to the State Plans that it expects those agencies to do so by January 24. Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration (TOSHA), which operates Tennessee’s state-run plan, has now updated its website announcing that it will not take any action toward adoption pending the Supreme Court’s ruling on the legality of the ETS:

“Leadership for the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration (TOSHA) continues to closely monitor legal developments regarding the federal government’s proposed mandate requiring COVID-19 vaccinations or frequent testing for employees at Tennessee’s largest employers. With the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s decision to delay enforcement of its Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) until February, TOSHA will wait for the United States Supreme Court ruling on the legality of the ETS before taking any further action.”

Continue Reading TOSHA Will Delay Vaccine Enforcement and Await Supreme Court Ruling

UPDATE: The U.S. Supreme Court has announced it will hold a special session on January 7, 2022 and will hear oral argument on the legal challenges to the OSHA COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard as well as the regulations issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services requiring vaccination for certain healthcare staff.  We will provide additional updates as they become available.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has dissolved the Fifth Circuit’s stay of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS).

In a 2-1 decision issued on December 17, the Sixth Circuit determined that OSHA did not exceed its authority in issuing the ETS, concluding that “[l]ongstanding precedent addressing the plain language of the ACT, OSHA’s interpretation of the statute, and examples of direct Congressional authorization following the enactment of the OSH  Act all show that OSHA’s authority includes protection against infectious diseases that present a significant risk in the workplace, without regard to exposure to that same hazard in some form outside the workplace.”

The Sixth Circuit went on to conclude that the plaintiffs could not show irreparable harm in light of COVID-19 still posing an emergency demonstrated by a recent rapid increase in COVID-19 infections and the emergence of the delta and omicron variants, and ultimately that the plaintiffs could not establish a likelihood of success on the merits warranting the Fifth Circuit’s stay.
Continue Reading Sixth Circuit Dissolves Stay of OSHA ETS Requiring Vaccination and Testing for Large Employers

On December 6, we noted on this blog post that because the injunction issued by the District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky on November 30 prohibiting the government from enforcing the government contractor vaccine mandate against contractors and subcontractors in Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee had national impact, a nationwide injunction seemed to make

As we previously reported, on November 30, the District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky (ED of KY) enjoined the government “from enforcing the vaccine mandate for federal contractors and subcontractors in all covered contracts in Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee.” This follows nationwide injunctions of both the OSHA vaccine and testing Emergency Temporary

On November 30, the District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky enjoined the government contractor vaccine mandate issued in accordance with President Biden’s Executive Order 14042. This injunction follows an injunction issued on November 29 of the CMS vaccine mandate and the earlier injunction of the OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard by the Fifth Circuit.

On September 9, the Biden Administration announced “The Path Out of the Pandemic;” a new COVID-19 strategy with direct impact on employers and workplace procedures. Join us for a virtual seminar in which the firm’s labor & employment attorneys will discuss recent federal action related to COVID-19 vaccine mandates and subsequent guidance from government agencies.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published the long-awaited Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) as directed by President Biden in his September 9 COVID-19 Action Plan – Path Out of the Pandemic.

The ETS will take effect as soon as it is published in the Federal Register and sets forth the following two options for employers with over 100 employees:

  1. A mandatory vaccination policy.
  2. A written policy allowing employees to undergo ongoing testing and masking instead of vaccination.

Employers are required to comply with all aspects of the ETS by December 5, except for the testing program for those employers who choose to provide this option to employees.  In that case, employees must either be fully vaccinated or submit proof of testing by January 4, 2022.

We break down the details below.

Which Employers Are Covered?

All employers with a total of 100 or more (full-time or part-time) employees at any time the ETS is in effect are covered.  The ETS does not apply to workplaces subject to the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force COVID-19 Workplace Safety: Guidance for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors or settings where an employee provides healthcare services or healthcare support services when subject to the requirements of § 1910.502.

Continue Reading OSHA Releases COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard: Here’s What It Means for Employers

As contractors and agencies scramble to comply with the government contractor vaccine mandate, there seems to be growing confusion over whether contractors or federal agencies are responsible for evaluating whether contractor employees working at government sites are entitled to medical or religious accommodations. In some cases, agencies tell contractors that the government, not the