Coronavirus in the Workplace

OSHA Suspends Enforcement of Vaccine Mandate for Employers with 100+ Employees

By Christine M. Zinter - Bullard Law

November 17, 2021

On November 16, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced that it is suspending all its implementation and enforcement efforts related to the Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) mandating vaccination or weekly COVID-19 testing in the workplace.

This decision comes after the Fifth Circuit reaffirmed its decision to put a stay on the mandate pending further litigation. The multiple lawsuits filed against the mandate will be combined and heard by the Sixth Circuit in the coming weeks.

Although there has been no official word from Oregon OSHA as of this morning, considering the serious issues raised by the federal litigation and recognizing the mandate’s steep costs to Oregon employers who would be required by state statute to pay for weekly testing, we expect our local legislators to at least temporarily halt their work on a state-level implementation.

Meanwhile, the White House stands behind its assertion that it has the authority to affect this mandate. While this suspension of activities may bring a welcome sigh of relief, large employers should remain cautious and keep an eye on the developing legal battles. Of course, Bullard Law will keep you informed of any federal or local developments.

Please note, this decision does not affect the Federal Contractor Mandate or the CMS Medicare Omnibus Staff Vaccine Mandate. Though both are also facing multiple legal challenges, no federal court has yet halted the implementation timelines. Employers subject to these requirements should continue steps toward vaccine mandate policy implementation and assume the deadlines (January 4, 2022, under CMS rules and January 18, 2022, under Federal Contractor rules) will not be suspended.

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