Evan Craighead All materialsWrite to the authorLast week, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was forced to suspend all activities related to the implementation and enforcement of the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate in workplaces, after a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals panel said it had “grave statutory and constitutional” concerns regarding the order. The Biden administration has asked a federal court to allow it to proceed with a COVID vaccine mandate for businesses with 100 or more employees, according to a Tuesday filing in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, Ohio.Lawyers for OSHA and the US Department of Justice argued that the mandate – estimated to impact some 84 million workers in the US – would save the lives of 6,500 workers and prevent over 250,000 hospitalizations within a six-month period.
"OSHA’s judgment that these measures are necessary to mitigate Covid-19 transmission in the workplace, and the grievous harms the virus inflicts on workers," the filing reads.
Lawyers also countered the Fifth Circuit’s previous argument that COVID-19 is not a workplace hazard.
The Biden administration’s team argued that offices and work sites are generally high-traffic areas in which employees come in contact with one another for extended periods, “thus risking workplace transmission of a highly contagious virus.” Per OSHA’s COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), businesses with 100 or more employees would be required to ensure their staffers are fully vaccinated against the highly-contagious disease, or agree to weekly COVID-19 testing. A three-judge panel in New Orleans’ Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals previously issued a stay on the matter, noting in a unanimous decision that the ETS had improperly asserted “virtually unlimited power to control individual conduct under the guise of a workplace regulation.”
OSHA's ETS was characterized by the panel as a "one-size fits-all sledgehammer that makes hardly any attempt to account for differences in workplaces [and workers] that have more than a little bearing on workers’ varying degrees of susceptibility to the supposedly ‘grave danger’ the Mandate purports to address."
Republican-led states opposed to the federal vaccine mandate have accused the Biden administration and OSHA of federal government overreach.
AGs in 11 US States File Lawsuit Over Biden’s Federal COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate for Workplaces5 November, 23:47 GMTWhile the workplace-based COVID vaccine mandate – originally scheduled for January 4 – has been halted amid litigation, no court decision has prompted the suspension of related mandates for healthcare workers and federal government contractors.