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Supreme Court Rules – Blocked Biden Vaccine Mandate; Healthcare Workers Must Be Vaccinated

On Thursday, January 13, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the vaccine mandate introduced by President Joe Biden that would have required employers with more than 100 employees to require all employees be vaccinated or wear masks and be tested weekly. The mandate, promulgated by the federal workplace safety agency, OSHA, would have impacted more than 80 million workers.

Following oral arguments held before the full Court on January 7, 2020, this move does not entirely come as a surprise, as the Court expressed concerns whether Congress had given OSHA the power to enact a mandate that so broadly impacted public health. In the unsigned ruling, the Court indicated the OSHA mandate was not an ordinary use of federal power. “It is instead a significant encroachment on the lives – and health – of a vast number of employees,” the Court said. The Court continued that “Permitting OSHA to regulate the hazards of daily life – simply because most Americans have jobs and face those same risks while on the clock – would significantly expand OSHA’s regulatory authority without clear congressional authorization.”

However, the Court did allow a separate mandate requiring the vaccination of over 10 million healthcare workers at approximately 76,000 healthcare facilities to be enforced.  In the healthcare facilities cases, the Court concluded that the regulation “fits neatly” within the scope and power Congress granted to Medicaid and Medicare to impose conditions on funds it controls, which includes issuing regulations that protect safety. “After all, ensuring that providers take steps to avoid transmitting a dangers virus to their patients is consistent with the fundamental principle of the medical profession: first, do no harm,” the Court stated. Healthcare facility workers have until the end of February under the mandate to become vaccinated.

With the loss of over 845,000 American lives to COVID, and the U.S. struggling to combat the fast-spreading Omicron variant, we encourage all to take appropriate steps to protect themselves and others from becoming ill and/or transmitting this deadly virus. The CDC recommends getting vaccinated, wearing a mask, sanitizing regularly, and maintaining social distancing as best measures in protecting yourself against the virus and its variants.

If you have questions about how today’s rulings will impact your business, policies, or best practices, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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