Request Demo
Request Demo

On November 4, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced a requirement for large U.S. companies to implement vaccine mandates. Specifically, companies of 100 or more employees have until January 4 to ensure all workers are either fully vaccinated or submit to weekly testing and mandatory masking. The new rules were expected to impact 84 million private-sector employees across the U.S., including 31 million who are believed to be unvaccinated.

Immediately following the announcement, at least 27 states filed lawsuits challenging the rule in several circuits, and the requirement was quickly granted an emergency stay by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

On December 17, a ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati lifted the November injunction that had blocked the ruling. According to the opinion:

It is difficult to imagine what more OSHA could do or rely on to justify its finding that workers face a grave danger in the workplace. It is not appropriate to second-guess that agency determination considering the substantial evidence, including many peer-reviewed scientific studies, on which it relied.

Although this seems like a big win for mandate advocates, the fight is not over. Within hours of the ruling, at least three petitions were filed with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking it to immediately block the mandate. Also, the decision came after a separate appeals court declined a request that it reinstate the administration's Federal contractor mandate, which had been blocked nationwide by a Federal judge earlier this month. Lastly, a third mandate that requires vaccines for certain heath care workers is being reviewed by the Supreme Court after lower courts froze it in half the states in the country.

If employers wait until the Supreme Court makes a ruling, they may not have enough time to comply. The day after the ruling from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the Department of Labor, commented on the Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS).

“To account for any uncertainty created by the stay, OSHA is exercising enforcement discretion with respect to the compliance dates of the ETS. To provide employers with sufficient time to come into compliance, OSHA will not issue citations for noncompliance with any requirements of the ETS before January 10 and will not issue citations for noncompliance with the standard’s testing requirements before February 9, so long as an employer is exercising reasonable, good faith efforts to come into compliance with the standard. OSHA will work closely with the regulated community to provide compliance assistance.”

Given the uncertainty (timeline and outcome) of a Supreme Court ruling and the time it will take to implement a vaccine mandate, it would be wise for employers to create a contingency plan. With the holidays around the corner and a shortage of tests due to the rise the Omicron variant, the need to prepare now is heightened.

To begin preparing, check out these answers to frequently asked questions about the initial OSHA ruling.

Get our latest articles delivered straight to your inbox!

Pulse Check: 20% Of Employees Not Connected To Their Organization’s Purpose

Organizations are increasingly focused on carefully crafting or defining their purpose or...

Study: Mindfulness Can Make People Less Moral

Mindfulness, a practice whereby individuals cultivate a nonjudgmental awareness of the present...

Coinbase Piloting Employees Giving Each Other Real-Time 👍 Or 👎

Coinbase, the cryptocurrency exchange platform, is testing a real-time employee feedback system...

Fake Interviews: Wells Fargo Takes A Page From NFL's Diversity Playbook

With public and legal pressure rising, organizations are increasingly implementing diversity,...

Toxic Positivity Cultures

Happy thoughts and feelings are inherently desirable. Not only do they feel good, they also ...

Can Flexible Work Decrease Organizational Joy?

Technological advancements and shifting attitudes towards work have resulted in a sustained...

Gallup Poll: 24% Of Workers Believe Their Employer Cares About Their Well-Being

Over the past few years, conversations regarding employee well-being have reached an all-time high....

94% Of CEOs Think They Provide Adequate Mental Health Support, 67% Of Employees Agree

Over the course of the pandemic, rates of anxiety and depression rose dramatically. Studies...

Taking Afternoons Off And Working Again In The Evening: Are Split Shifts The Next New Work Arrangement?

As has been well discussed, the pandemic led many organizations to consider alternative work...

From Hybrid To Homeroom: Why Hybrid Companies Are Taking Attendance

After learning the benefits and drawbacks of remote work, many companies are opting for a partial...