SCOTUS strikes down OSHA’s COVID vaccine/testing mandate
The U.S. The Supreme Court of the United States, by a six to three margin, has ruled that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cannot enforce a mandate that would require employers with at least 100 employees to require its workers to either be vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo regular testing for the virus.
The decision was based on the determination that COVID does not meet the “occupational hazard” criteria set out by Congress in giving OSHA its protective authority in the workplace.
“COVID-19 can and does spread at home, in schools, during sporting events, and everywhere else that people gather. That kind of universal risk is no different from the day-to-day dangers that all face from crime, air pollution, or any number of communicable diseases,” the court’s decision reads. “Permitting OSHA to regulate the hazards of daily life — simply because most Americans have jobs and face those same risks while on the clock — would significantly expand OSHA’s regulatory authority without clear congressional authorization.”
President Joe Biden expressed disappointment with the decision. “I call on business leaders to immediately join those who have already stepped up — including one third of Fortune 100 companies — and institute vaccination requirements to protect their workers, customers, and communities,” he said.
Retailers, who had been lobbying the federal government to push back deadlines for mandates fearing it would negatively affect their ability to staff jobs, expressed support for the decision.
David French, senior vice president of government relations at the National Retail Federation, called the court’s decision “a significant victory for employers.”
Brian Dodge, president of the Retail Industry Leaders Association, said its members are concerned about implementation of the mandate and that it is focused on “working with our members to ensure they have the information and tools they need to safely operate, manage their workforce, and meet the needs of their customers.”
FMI also voiced support for the court’s decision. “We are pleased the Supreme Court recognized the challenges OSHA’s rule would have imposed on food retailers and manufacturers, our employees and, ultimately, American consumers,” said Leslie Sarason, president and CEO of the association.
“The ruling is a great relief for our industry as it staves off a burdensome mandate that would have created further disruptions and impaired our members’ ability to properly serve the needs of their communities,” said Greg Ferrara, NGA president and CEO.
- National Federation of Independent Business, et al., Applicants 21A244 v. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, et al. – Supreme Court of the United States
- NRF Responds to Supreme Court Decision on OSHA Employer Vaccine Mandate – National Retail Federation
- Retailers Remain Focused on Safety – Retail Industry Leaders Association
- FMI Welcomes U.S. Supreme Court Decision Pausing Implementation and Enforcement of OSHA COVID-19 Vaccine-Testing Mandate – FMI
- NGA Praises SCOTUS Stay of Vaccine and Testing Mandate – National Grocers Association
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you think the Supreme Court’s decision will make it easier or harder on retailers trying to decide about COVID-19 mandates and regular testing for workers? Do you approve of the actions of companies that require workers who are unvaccinated without medical cause to pay for tests or increase their health insurance premiums?