January 13, 2022

Supreme Court Rules on OSHA Vaccine/Testing Mandate

The Supreme Court of the United States issued a much-anticipated decision on Thursday to stay the OSHA ETS vaccine/testing mandate, which blocks enforcement of the regulation. A majority of the Court agreed that parties to the regulatory challenge are likely to succeed on the merits of the case because OSHA lacks authority to impose what amounts to a broad public health mandate on employers. The case now returns to the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals for a full trial. However, the decision specifies that the stay blocking enforcement of the mandate remains in place until removed by the Supreme Court on appeal.

In a similar but unrelated case, the Supreme Court upheld the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) vaccine/testing mandate that applies only to healthcare workers employed in specific health sectors. A clear distinction between the two cases is that the CMS imposed the mandate under its spending power. Employers can opt-out of the mandate if they refuse to accept Medicare and Medicaid funds.

Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who petitioned the court to overturn both vaccine/testing mandates, issued a statement praising the Court’s decision to stay the OSHA ETS. Cameron stated, “The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision is a victory for hundreds of thousands of large employers and their employees in Kentucky and across the nation.” He added, “We argued that OSHA does not have the authority to impose such a sweeping mandate on the American people.”

Cameron stated his displeasure with the Court’s decision on the CMS mandate. “We are disappointed that the court did not reach the same conclusion for the millions of healthcare workers and health care facilities, especially those located in rural areas, who are now facing mandatory vaccinations through a mandate from CMS.”

KLC previously recommended that cities with 100 or more employees prepare to implement the OSHA ETS. Now, the Supreme Court stay will remain in place until litigation is complete. This means that affected cities no longer face the immediate prospect of a federal vaccine/testing mandate.

KLC will continue to monitor developments as litigation proceeds and provide updates as they occur. Contact Andrea Shindlebower Main, KLC personnel services manager, or any KLC Municipal Law Department member for questions or more information.