Breaking News Update: Federal Appeals Court Blocks Biden Administration’s New Vaccine-or-Testing Policy
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans has issued a stay temporarily blocking President Biden’s new COVID-19 vaccination-or-testing policy for businesses with at least 100 employees companywide. The court issued the ruling after a range of lawsuits were filed in states across the country challenging the policy.
The appeals court granted the emergency stay stopping enforcement of the new policies, saying they raise “grave statutory and constitutional issues,” and added that the rule was suspended “pending further action by this court.”
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) responded quickly to the court action. “The Occupational Safety and Health Act explicitly gives OSHA [the Occupational Safety and Health Administration] the authority to act quickly in an emergency where the agency finds that workers are subjected to a grave danger and a new standard is necessary to protect them,” said Seema Nanda, the DOL’s chief legal officer. “We are fully prepared to defend this standard in court.”
Under the new rules issued on Thursday:
- All unvaccinated workers must begin wearing masks by Dec. 5 and provide a negative COVID-19 test on a weekly basis beginning Jan. 4.
- Employers must pay employees for the time it takes to get vaccinated and recover from any side effects that prevent them from working.
- Companies are not required to pay for or provide the tests unless they are otherwise required to by state or local laws or in labor union contracts.
The 5th Circuit ordered the Biden administration to file initial legal papers by late Monday afternoon and is expected to move quickly to rule on whether the new policies can be enforced.