Businesses opposed to President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine and testing mandate have won a major legal victory.
On Friday, the 5th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld a temporary stay on the mandate, which was issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and required businesses with at least 100 employees to have them vaccinated, or face weekly COVID-19 tests and face mask requirements. The mandate set a deadline of Dec. 5 for initiating the weekly tests and Jan. 4 for employees to be fully vaccinated. The OSHA rule also required employers to provide paid time off for employees to get vaccinated.
A group of trade organizations, including the National Retail Federation, filed a suit last week in the court opposing the mandate.
“We are pleased with the decision by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals preventing the Biden administration from doing anything to enforce the OSHA ETS (emergency temporary standard) unless and until an appeal is made and another court says otherwise,” the NRF said in a statement late Friday.
The NRF was joined in the lawsuit by the American Trucking Associations, the Food Industry Association, the International Warehouse Logistics Association, the Association for Convenience and Fuel Retailing, the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors and the National Federation of Independent Businesses. The lawsuit argued that the mandate would create enormous extra work and financial burden on companies during the critical holiday season, compound existing labor shortages with employees possibly refusing to come to work, and that it was unconstitutional. The trade organizations also argued that companies have already implemented health procedures and policies to limit the spread of COVID-19.
“The companies seeking a stay in this case contend that they would have been irreparably harmed in the absence of a stay, whether by financial impacts, the loss of suspended employees during this highly competitive labor market, compliance and monitoring costs associated with the mandate, the diversion of resources, or by OSHA’s plan to impose stiff financial penalties on companies that refuse to punish or test unwilling employees,” the NRF said.
“The court recognizes that the ETS presents an incredible and unprecedented burden on millions of businesses across the country,” the NRF continued. “They acknowledge the tragic loss of life and the seriousness of COVID-19, but that transmission is not inherently a workplace issue. We will continue our efforts to ensure that businesses, their employees, the consumers they serve and the communities where they operate are not unduly burdened and disadvantaged by well-intentioned yet misguided policy and regulations that sound good in concept but have no basis of fact as to the reality of how we move beyond the pandemic.”
Last July, President Biden began requiring vaccines for federal employees and contractors. In September, he required that the 17 million health care workers at hospitals and other facilities getting Medicare or Medicaid funding must also be vaccinated and ensure all unvaccinated workers wear a face mask in the workplace. OSHA has a strong 50-year record of requiring employers to take common sense actions to prevent workers from getting sick or injured on the job. This rule would cover 84 million employees.