OSHA Withdraws Vaccine Mandate for Large Businesses
Today, January 25, 2022, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced its plan to withdraw the highly contested mandatory COVID-19 vaccination rule for large employers.
OSHA Legal Challenges
President Biden announced in September that OSHA would publish an emergency regulation. That regulation would require large businesses with over 100 employees to adopt a COVID-19 policy mandating either vaccinations or regular testing for employees. Employers and interest groups throughout the country sued in multiple jurisdictions seeking to halt the enforcement of the rule pending the outcome of the lawsuits.
On January 13, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked OSHA’s rule, holding that OSHA likely exceeded its authority. However, the Supreme Court ruling did not dismiss the case but rather resulted in a return to the lower court to fully litigate and decide the issue.
The Supreme Court did indicate the challengers to the mandate were likely to succeed on their merits. OSHA took the hint and decided to withdraw the rule.
If you’ve been following our recent blogs on this topic, you already know that OSHA was not on solid footing and has a poor track record of success with emergency regulations. Prior to the pandemic, OSHA lost on 5 out of 6 legal challenges to its emergency rules. This is just the latest in their series of defeats.
What it Means for your Business
Most importantly, what does this mean for your business? Some large employers have held firm to their vaccine requirements, like the popular American workwear company, Carhartt. However, other companies, like Starbucks and General Electric, have walked back their vaccine requirements or nixed them altogether.
As a business owner, you still have the power to make decisions that make sense for your business. But there are legal pitfalls and best practices you need to be aware of.