A federal appeals court on Friday extended their block on President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for large employers in the United States, saying the rule “grossly exceeds” OSHA’s authority.
Last Friday, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) filed an emergency temporary standard with various COVID rules.
Under the standard, employers, who have more than 100 employees, must develop, implement and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, unless they adopt a policy requiring employees to choose to either be vaccinated or undergo regular COVID-19 testing and wear a face covering at work.
OSHA set a January 4 deadline for full vaccination.
“COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on workers, and we continue to see dangerous levels of cases,” U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said.
“We must take action to implement this emergency temporary standard to contain the virus and protect people in the workplace against the grave danger of COVID-19,” Walsh said.
“The emergency temporary standard does not require employers to pay for testing,” the agency said.
“Employers may be required to pay for testing to comply with other laws, regulations, collective bargaining agreements, or other collectively negotiated agreements. Employers are also not required to pay for face coverings,” the agency added.
Last weekend, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued a stay on OSHA’s emergency temporary standard, NBC News reported.
The ruling comes after multiple Republican-led states filed legal challenges against the standard.
The Justice Department responded to the ruling by asking the court to withdraw its stay, arguing that the vaccine and testing requirements were within the authority of OSHA.
The Justice Department also argued the mandate would have dire consequences if it was blocked, the New York Times reported.
OSHA’s mandate would apply to more than 84 million private-sector employees, which is two-thirds of the nation’s private-sector workforce.
On Friday, the appeals court issued a 22-page ruling barring the Biden administration and OSHA from moving forward with the mandate.
Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt said in the ruling that the stay is “firmly in the public interest.”
“From economic uncertainty to workplace strife, the mere specter of the mandate has contributed to untold economic upheaval in recent months. Of course, the principles at stake when it comes to the Mandate are not reducible to dollars and cents,” Engelhardt said.
“The public interest is also served by maintaining our constitutional structure and maintaining the liberty of individuals to make intensely personal decisions according to their own convictions—even, or perhaps particularly, when those decisions frustrate government officials,” Engelhardt added.
The New York Times reported that the Biden administration is likely to appeal the matter and the Supreme Court will eventually rule on it.