Vaccine mandate ruling points employers back to state and local guidance

January 17, 2022

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By Max Koonce, Chief claims officer and Bryon Bass, SVP workforce absence

On January 13, 2022, the Supreme Court blocked the Biden Administration from implementing and enforcing a vaccine mandate on large businesses (defined as those with 100 or more employees).

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which is tasked with protecting workplace safety, had proposed the emergency measure, known as the Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard, in its efforts to protect the country’s workforce from the ongoing COVID-19 virus.

In response to the Supreme Court’s ruling, U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh issued a statement which read, in part, “Regardless of the outcome of these proceedings, OSHA will do everything in its existing authority to hold businesses accountable for protecting workers, including under the COVID-19 National Emphasis Program and General Duty Clause.”

Now what?

Employers are still — and historically have been — responsible for the safety and wellness of their employees while on the job. As such, they should continue to follow and enforce any applicable vaccine mandates which may come from state and/or local governments; employers may also choose to uphold their own vaccine or testing requirements.

Thursday’s decision doesn’t actually put an end to the conversation, as the decision will now go back to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. We can expect the Supreme Court to hear arguments on the OSHA ruling again in the coming months.

We understand there’s been a bit of whiplash in response to the continued changes and updates surrounding vaccination and testing mandates. So for now, in the simplest of terms: carry on. And we’ll continue to keep providing updates as they happen.

Tags: Casualty, coronavirus, COVID workforce challenges, COVID-19, employers, mandate, OSHA, Performance, regulation, Supreme Court, Vaccine Mandates, View on people, workers' comp, Workers' compensation