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United States Supreme Court Stays OSHA'S Vaccinate-Or-Test Mandate

On Thursday afternoon (1/13/22), the U.S. Supreme Court issued its much-anticipated decision on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) vaccinate-or-test mandate that has been looming over employers since November and, most recently, went into effect this past Monday (1/10/22). In short, the Supreme Court blocked OSHA’s mandate, meaning that the vaccinate-or-test rule is no longer in effect.

In its decision, the Supreme Court held that the OSHA Act “empowers the Secretary [of Labor] to set workplace safety standards, not broad public health measures.” [Access the Court’s decision here]. The Supreme Court concluded that OSHA’s vaccinate-or-test mandate was too broadly designed to regulate public health, generally, as opposed to the dangers specific to the American workplace.

Accordingly, the Supreme Court granted a stay, which will remain in effect until further disposition by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals as well as any further disposition in the event that the Sixth Circuit’s decision is appealed back to the U.S. Supreme Court for final decision. Practically, this means that employers can breath a sigh of relief as they are no longer required to comply with the rigors of OSHA’s vaccinate-or-test mandate for the foreseeable future.

Also on Thursday afternoon, the U.S. Supreme Court simultaneously issued its decision on the healthcare vaccination mandate. This rule was promulgated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and generally mandates the COVID-19 vaccine for employees who work for healthcare entities that receive federal funds. The Supreme Court upheld the CMS vaccination mandate, which means that covered healthcare employers are required to comply with the mandate and their workers must have at least one shot by January 27, 2022 and the second shot (if applicable) by February 28th.