Supreme Court Halts Enforcement of OSHA Vaccine-or-Test Mandate, Upholds Requirements for Healthcare Workers

Jan 14, 2022

The Supreme Court of the United States dealt a fatal blow to the federal government’s attempt to require an estimated 84 million employees to get vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing.

In its ruling, the high court held that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) lacked the legal authority to implement its Emergency Temporary Standard, which the court described as “broad public health measures.” The court found that the law permits OSHA to regulate only work-related dangers, and that COVID-19 was not such a danger.

COVID–19 can and does spread at home, in schools, during sporting events, and everywhere else that people gather. That kind of universal risk is no different from the day-to-day dangers that all face from crime, air pollution, or any number of communicable diseases. Permitting OSHA to regulate the hazards of daily life—simply because most Americans have jobs and face those same risks while on the clock—would significantly expand OSHA’s regulatory authority without clear congressional authorization.

The ruling immediately halts the obligation of employers with 100 or more employees to comply with the numerous requirements of the ETS. While the legal battle can technically proceed in the lower courts, the Supreme Court’s opinion that the regulation’s challengers had a strong likelihood of success on the merits all but ensures that the ETS will never take effect.

In a separate ruling released Wednesday, the Supreme Court upheld a requirement that healthcare providers who care for Medicare and Medicaid patients must be vaccinated against COVID-19. The court reasoned that Congress authorized the Secretary of Health and Human Services to impose conditions on the receipt of Medicaid and Medicare funds, and the vaccine mandate was “necessary to promote and protect patient health and safety.”

For more information about these rulings or help with managing your company’s COVID-19 policies, please contact any KWW professional. Your Workforce. Our Priority.