The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear arguments regarding the vaccine mandate for large employers Jan. 7, 2022.
As way of background, the federal vaccine mandate has seen a back-and-forth in the courts over the past several weeks, with the stay on the emergency temporary standard (ETS) being lifted in mid-December 2021.
Now, the high court will hear oral arguments from petitioners and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) starting Jan. 7, 2022, three days before OSHA says it will begin enforcement efforts.
Applying to companies with at least 100 workers, the ETS requires employers to ensure workers are vaccinated or submit to weekly COVID-19 tests. (Find more about the initial requirements regarding the federal vaccine mandate in a previous Employment Law News post.)
Federal Vaccine Mandate in the Supreme Court
Following the decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, OSHA announced it would not cite employers for noncompliance with the ETS before Jan. 10, 2022, and noncompliance with testing requirements before Feb. 9, 2022, if an employer is making good-faith efforts to comply.
Still, several entities, including 27 states, filed emergency motions with the Supreme Court to block enforcement efforts after the Sixth Circuit decision.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court decided to expedite arguments regarding the federal vaccine mandate, including appeals against the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services mandate.
If the vaccine mandate for large employers eventually goes into effect, it would require covered employers to ensure employees are vaccinated or submit to weekly COVID-19 tests, as well as requiring employees to get paid time off to receive shots and recover from side effects.
Vaccine Mandates and COVID-19 Employment Law
As employers await the decision from the Supreme Court, there are still several vaccine-related items to consider, from the New York City vaccine mandate to states with bans or limitations on such mandates.
Plus, some jurisdictions require employers to provide paid time off for employees to get vaccinated, including:
- Washington, D.C.
- Los Angeles
- Los Angeles County
- New York State
- New York City
And other jurisdictions still have COVID-19 paid leave laws in effect, further complicating employment law compliance for organizations that operate across the U.S.
Even during the holiday season, the COVID-19 pandemic is once again making compliance a challenge for large employers.
Employers should keep an eye on any news from the Supreme Court, review the OSHA ETS, and consult legal counsel.