It appears we’ve come to the end of the line…for now. The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), in an opinion released January 13. 2021, penned the final words silencing OSHA’s vaccine mandate (ETS) for employers with 100+ employees. If you’ve been tuning in to this saga, many thanks. If not, catch up by reading our previous blogs on the subject:
In the 9-page opinion (excluding concurring and dissenting opinions), the majority succinctly “Cliff’s Notes” the reader on the saga: that OSHA enacted an ETS applicable to approx. 84 million American workers, requiring either receipt of the COVID-19 vaccine or submission to a weekly test and daily mask wearing at work. Employers would have been required to create a vaccination policy, verify vaccination status of each employee, and maintain proof of it. The ETS was followed by a stay from the 5th Circuit, then a lifting of said stay by the 6th Circuit. SCOTUS spoke the last word: the ETS is stayed, and private employers may heave a sigh of relief.
It boils down to this: SCOTUS clarified that OSHA lacked authority because Congress did not clearly authorize OSHA to create such a broad sweeping ETS. Instead, OSHA is tasked with creating occupational and workplace safety standards, not public health standards. Unless Congress speaks plainly, administrative bodies may not exercise power over realms historically reserved for the States.
SCOTUS’ opinion does not apply to CMS’ Rule regarding certain healthcare workers’ vaccination, issued simultaneously with OSHA’s ETS.