OSHA Suspends Implementation of Vaccine Mandate

Ralph Ellis

November 18, 2021

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

Responding to a federal court order, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration is suspending implementation and enforcement of its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for organizations with 100 or more employees.The OSHA website now carries this statement about the agency's COVID mandate, officially called the Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard: "While OSHA remains confident in its authority to protect workers in emergencies, OSHA has suspended activities related to the implementation and enforcement of the ETS pending future developments in the litigation."

The website noted the federal court ordered OSHA "take no steps to implement or enforce" the mandate "until further court order."

On Nov. 4, OSHA unveiled the rule requiring organizations with 100 or more employees to mandate workers be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or require workers to submit to weekly testing. The deadline for compliance was Jan. 4, 2022.

But the rule was blocked Nov. 12 by a three-judge panel of the New Orleans-based U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in response to a lawsuit filed by the attorneys general for five states, plus several companies affected by the rule.

One of the plaintiffs' main arguments was that the power to issue such a mandate belonged to Congress, not a branch of the administration like OSHA.

The Fifth Circuit won't hear further arguments in the OSHA case. All legal challenges to administration vaccine mandates have been consolidated and will be heard in the Appeals Court for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati, Ohio,  The New York Times  reported.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation randomly picked that court to hear more than 30 lawsuits filed against the administration's mandates, The Times reported.

However, the Sixth Circuit rules, the case will probably end up at the U.S. Supreme Court, The Times said.

Sources:

OSHA website. "COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing ETS"

The New York Times. "Challenges to Workplace Vaccine Mandate Moved to Appeals Court in Cincinnati"

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