Court Extends Halt of Vaccine Mandate for Businesses of 100 or More Workers

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A U.S. appeals court has extended the temporary stay of the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate until the case makes its way through the court system.

The 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals based in New Orleans ordered November 12 that the vaccine requirements for businesses of 100 or more workers remain stayed and that the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration take no further action to enforce its emergency temporary standard while a legal challenge makes its way through the court system.

The court ruled that OSHA overstepped its authority in requiring that employees of larger businesses be vaccinated against Covid-19 by January 4 or that they undergo weekly testing and wear a mask. The mask requirement for unvaccinated workers was to take effect December 5.

The court said “the stay is firmly in the public interest” and “the mandate has contributed to untold economic upheaval in recent months.”

“The public interest is also served by maintaining our constitutional structure and maintaining the liberty of individuals to make intensely personal decisions according to their own convictions – even, or perhaps particularly, when those decisions frustrate government officials,” the ruling said.

The order comes a week after the court issued a temporary stay on the mandate. It stems from a petition for review from a multitude of plaintiffs from several states, including the Trosclair family-owned supermarkets and businesses in Louisiana; the states of Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, South Carolina and Utah; and various other businesses and groups.

They argue that the mandate adversely affects businesses that are already facing a worker shortage, and it would make it more difficult to hire and keep employees.

OSHA’s response to the petition says the emergency standard “is necessary to address a grave danger” and that the “legal objections lack merit.”

OSHA has also argued that the emergency standard is not a mandate because employees have a choice on whether to get vaccinated or get tested.

The standard does not require employers to pay for weekly Covid testing, and Covid vaccines are free. However, employers would be required to pay for time off for workers to get tested and vaccinated, as well as time off for any side effects from the vaccine.