Appeals Court Reaffirms Hold on President’s Vaccine Mandate

November 13, 2021

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld its decision to put a hold on President Biden’s workplace vaccine mandate Friday, calling it “staggeringly overbroad.” The court affirmed its ruling despite the White House’s position that the hold “would endanger many thousands of people” and “would likely cost dozens or even hundreds of lives per day.”

The court ordered the U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to “take no steps to implement or enforce the Mandate until further court order” and said the mandate “exposes [petitioners] to severe financial risk” and “threatens to decimate their workforces (and business prospects).”

“The mandate is a one-size-fits-all sledgehammer that makes hardly any attempt to account for differences in workplaces (and workers),” wrote Circuit Court Judge Kurt Engelhardt.

In response, the Department of Justice (DOJ) promised to fight back, saying it will “vigorously defend” the guidelines laid out by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Earlier this month, OSHA issued a rule requiring employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workers are fully vaccinated against COVID or face weekly testing by Jan. 4, 2022. In response, at least 27 states as well as business and religious groups filed lawsuits claiming the mandate is violates the U.S. Constitution.

“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,” wrote Judge Engelhardt.

The legal battle over the workplace vaccine mandate is expected to be lengthy. Nevertheless, employers should familiarize themselves with the ETS requirements and be prepared should it be implemented.

If you have questions or would like to discuss further, please reach out to Labor & Employment Chair Rob Gilmore at rsg@kjk.com or 216.736.7240