OSHA’s Mandatory Vaccine Rule Paused

By Sally A. Piefer

Last week, OSHA released its mandatory vaccine emergency temporary standard (ETS), which would require employers with 100 or more employees to implement a mandatory vaccine requirement for their workers, or alternatively to give employees the choice between receiving the COVID-19 vaccine or being subject to mandatory weekly testing.

As we anticipated, a number of lawsuits were filed across the nation seeking to invalidate the ETS. One of those lawsuits was filed in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. As you might recall, the Fifth Circuit was the location where the white-collar exemption rule was litigated several years back, and has been historically known as an employer-friendly location for challenges to earlier OSHA ETS.

On Saturday, the Court granted a Motion to Stay Enforcement of the ETS, pending a decision from the Court. OSHA has until 5:00 p.m. today (Monday) to respond to the request for a permanent injunction, and the petitioners have until 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday to file a reply.

What does this mean for employers? Technically, because the Fifth Circuit only has jurisdiction over the states identified, the ETS has been temporarily halted in those states. However, similar lawsuits have been filed across the country – including several which have jurisdiction over Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) challenged the OSHA ETS last week and similarly asked for the court to issue an emergency motion. In that case, OSHA has until November 12, 2021 to respond. The State of Indiana also filed a lawsuit and similarly asked for a stay, but to date no response deadline has been set in that case. Similar lawsuits are pending in the Sixth Circuit (Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio & Tennessee), the Eighth Circuit (Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota & South Dakota) and the Eleventh Circuit (Alabama, Florida & Georgia)

If you have questions about this new development, please contact Attorney Sally Piefer or the Lindner & Marsack attorney with whom you regularly work. We will continue providing updates as we learn more about new developments in the cases being litigated and how they will impact your business.