Advocacy News – January 13, 2022
The Supreme Court on Thursday blocked the Biden administration’s vaccine-or-test mandate on businesses with 100 or more employees. The court said a separate mandate requiring vaccinations for an estimated 20 million health care workers can be enforced.
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration’s (OSHA’s) Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) went into effect on Jan. 10 but was not yet being enforced. It required companies ensure their workers were vaccinated or wear masks and show negative COVID-19 test results at least once a week. It was estimated that the rule would have covered over two million Michigan workers and tens of thousands of Michigan job providers.
In their unsigned opinion, the Court said: “Although Congress has indisputably given OSHA the power to regulate occupational dangers, it has not given that agency the power to regulate public health more broadly.” Three of the court’s justices — Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor — dissented.
Announced in November, the government was challenged on whether the law gave them the power to issue such a sweeping mandate. Lower courts initially blocked the requirement, but a later ruling allowed it to go into effect.
With today’s Supreme Court ruling, the fate of OSHA’s ETS is decided, although some have raised concern that the Biden administration and OSHA could still pursue a permanent rule on the topic.
The Michigan Chamber has been leading the Listen to MI Business coalition on the employer mandate, urging the Biden Administration to reconsider the mandate due to the many challenges and unintended it creates for employers, workers and the economy. The coalition issued the following statement following today’s ruling:
“We strongly support the United States Supreme Court’s decision to block the federal vaccine or test mandate on employers with 100 or more employees. The court fully acknowledged the sweeping and disruptive nature of OSHA’s vaccine mandate and the numerous complexities associated with its implementation. We will continue to encourage vaccines and the necessity of maintaining thoughtful safety protocols in the workplace.”
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