Biden Admin Asks Federal Court to Lift the Stay on COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate in Workplaces
Last week, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was forced to suspend all activities related to the implementation and enforcement of the Biden administration's COVID-19 vaccine mandate in workplaces, after a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals panel said it had "grave statutory and constitutional" concerns regarding the order.
The Biden administration has asked a federal court to allow it to proceed with a COVID vaccine mandate for businesses with 100 or more employees, according to a Tuesday filing in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Lawyers for OSHA and the US Department of Justice argued that the mandate - estimated to impact some 84 million workers in the US - would save the lives of 6,500 workers and prevent over 250,000 hospitalizations within a six-month period.
"OSHA’s judgment that these measures are necessary to mitigate Covid-19 transmission in the workplace, and the grievous harms the virus inflicts on workers," the filing reads.
Lawyers also countered the Fifth Circuit's previous argument that COVID-19 is not a workplace hazard.
The Biden administration's team argued that offices and work sites are generally high-traffic areas in which employees come in contact with one another for extended periods, "thus risking workplace transmission of a highly contagious virus."
Per OSHA's COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS),
businesses with 100 or more employees would be required to ensure their staffers are fully vaccinated against the highly-contagious disease, or agree to weekly COVID-19 testing.
A three-judge panel in New Orleans' Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals previously issued a stay on the matter, noting in a unanimous decision that the ETS had improperly asserted "virtually unlimited power to control individual conduct under the guise of a workplace regulation."
OSHA's ETS was characterized by the panel as a "one-size fits-all sledgehammer that makes hardly any attempt to account for differences in workplaces [and workers] that have more than a little bearing on workers’ varying degrees of susceptibility to the supposedly ‘grave danger’ the Mandate purports to address."
Republican-led states opposed to the federal vaccine mandate have accused the Biden administration and OSHA of federal government overreach.
5 November 2021, 23:47 GMT
While the workplace-based COVID vaccine mandate - originally scheduled for January 4 - has been halted amid litigation, no court decision has prompted the suspension of related mandates for healthcare workers and federal government contractors.