Over the last few months, the White House has made significant efforts to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for employers across the country. Specifically, the Biden Administration has targeted larger employers with 100 or more workers, healthcare organizations, and certain federal contractors/ subcontractors. Despite this ambitious initiative, the Administration’s progress has stalled in recent days as legal challenges have slowed these mandates to a halt. Below is the current status of the three federal vaccine mandates:
- Nationwide implementation for OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) requiring vaccines for employers with 100+ employees was stayed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on November 12th.
- The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) healthcare vaccine mandate was enjoined nationwide by two separate federal district courts—the Eastern District of Missouri and the Western District of Louisiana—on November 29th and November 30th, respectively.
- The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia enjoined the federal contractor/subcontractor vaccine mandate nationwide on December 7th.
In short, if your organization was planning for a vaccine mandate to take effect in the coming weeks, chances are that mandate is on hold indefinitely. With these rapid-fire developments in the courts taking place on a daily basis, what should covered employers do?
At a minimum, entities should monitor legal developments in this area. The coming weeks and months will likely consist of a chaotic stream of information from government agencies, news outlets, and industry practitioners.
If your organization was originally impacted by one of the three national vaccine mandates, continuing your preparations may also be prudent. In the event that one or more of the mandates makes it through these legal challenges unscathed, a modified implementation timeline could start the countdown once again.
Finally, stay on the alert for state and/or local vaccine mandates. For example, on December 6th, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a sweeping vaccine mandate for all private employers that takes effect on December 27th. As we head into the winter months and fear of the Omicron variant continues to grow, more local mandates like New York City’s may arise.
If you have any questions, please contact any Meyers Roman employment attorney: