U.S. Supreme Court Decisions on COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates

The U.S. Supreme Court has issued monumental decisions regarding the federal agencies’ powers to enforce COVID-19 vaccine mandates. 

OSHA had enacted a vaccine mandate covering employers of 100 or more employees that required employees to be vaccinated or obtain a medical test each week at their own expense and to wear a mask each workday.  Enforcement was stayed by some lower courts and then reinstated by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. A divided Supreme Court ruled that the enforcement should again be stayed and it sent the case back to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals for determination. The Supreme Court majority indicated that OSHA may not have had authority to implement and enforce the regulation.  So, for now, employers need not comply with the regulation.

In a separate opinion, a divided Supreme Court analyzed the regulation implemented by the Department of Health and Human Services that required facilities that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding to ensure their staffs are vaccinated, unless exempt for medical or religious reasons.  Two district courts enjoined (prohibited) enforcement of that rule.  The Supreme Court stayed those injunctions, meaning that the regulation can be enforced.  However, the matters were referred back to the Eighth and Fifth Circuits for further disposition.  So, for now, employers who receive Medicare and Medicaid funding are required to comply. 

In other words, the COVID-19 vaccination battles are not over.

For additional information and guidance on this ever-changing employment landscape, please contact your RBE attorney.


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Posted on January 13, 0222, by Donald S. Smith