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As detailed in our prior alerts, on November 5, 2021, federal OSHA issued its COVID-19 vaccine-or-testing mandate (Emergency Temporary Standard, “ETS”) for employers with 100 or more employees.  OSHA’s ETS also covered other COVID-19 precautions in the workplace like face masks. After numerous challenges from states and businesses were heard by various federal courts, the matter of halting enforcement of OSHA’s mandate landed at the Supreme Court. 

Today, the United States Supreme Court blocked the mandate from taking effect, declaring OSHA lacked the authority to mandate a vaccination-or-testing protocol.  However, the Supreme Court  issued a separate order allowing the vaccine mandate covering healthcare workers to remain in place.

The Supreme Court’s ruling is surely the final nail in the coffin for OSHA’s mandate.  While the ruling merely halts enforcement pending decisions by lower courts, its lengthy and forceful denunciation of OSHA’s rulemaking authority is likely to result in similar decisions from the courts that will now decide the permanent fate of OSHA’s ETS.

Employers, outside of healthcare settings, with 100 or more employees are no longer required to comply with OSHA’s ETS, which required vaccination or weekly testing for all employees by February 9, 2022.  This ruling does not impact employers’ ability to independently impose such mandates and does not affect mandates from state and local governments.   

Healthcare-oriented employers and those still subject to state and local protocols should contact their Raines Feldman attorney to discuss ongoing compliance obligations.