OSHA abiding by court order, pauses implementing vaccine mandate

Posted at 1:13 PM, Nov 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-17 17:12:42-05

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced over the weekend that they would abide by a court order to not take further steps to implement a new rule that would require large companies to mandate COVID vaccinations or regular testing among their employees.

According to a note on its website, OSHA says it has "suspended activities related to the implementation and enforcement" of the large employer vaccine mandate following a Friday ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals' Fifth Circuit.

Internet archives indicate the notice was posted to OSHA's page between Friday night and Saturday morning.

While OSHA said that while it is abiding by the court order, it "remains confident in its authority to protect workers in emergencies."

The new rules, which were announced on November 5, require companies with more than 100 employees to require vaccinations among employees or institute weekly COVID testing by January 4. Companies that fail to comply could face penalties of nearly $14,000 per violation.

The new requirements were first previewed by President Joe Biden in September as part of a six-pronged plan to combat COVID in the fall and winter months.

On Friday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals said OSHA must halt implementing the new rules while courts weigh its legality. CNBC reports that the ruling called the rules "fatally flawed" and "staggeringly overbroad."

Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen joined 10 other state attorneys general several days ago in a lawsuit challenging the Biden administration’s rule that larger companies must require workers to be vaccinated against COVID.

Knudsen said in a news release on Wednesday: “This is welcome news for Montanans whose livelihoods were threatened and for businesses facing pressure from the Biden administration despite a federal court order blocking the mandate. Employers in Montana have no reason to force their workers to choose between a vaccine or a paycheck, which would be a violation of state human rights law. As our lawsuit against the Biden administration joins others, I’m continuing to work with attorneys general from across the nation in the fight to strike down this illegal mandate for good.”

Legal experts predict that there's a "high probability" that the case will ultimately reach the Supreme Court.