Supreme Court vacates vaccine mandate

The U.S. Supreme Court today, Jan. 13, issued two rulings blocking an OSHA COVID-19 vaccine mandate for large employers, but allowing a separate rule applying only to health care workers at facilities receiving federal funding.

The high court settled the matter concerning large employers in a 6-3 decision to block the rule that would have been issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, with the three liberal justices dissenting.

"OSHA has never before imposed such a mandate. Nor has Congress. Indeed, although Congress has enacted significant legislation addressing the COVID–19 pandemic, it has declined to enact any measure similar to what OSHA has promulgated here," the majority opinion stated.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration posted an emergency temporary standard in the Federal Register regarding Covid-19 protection for workers employed by manufacturers with 100 or more employees.

The standard mandated that businesses with more than 100 employees “develop, implement, and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, with an exception for employers that instead adopt a policy requiring employees to either get vaccinated or elect to undergo regular COVID-19 testing and wear a face covering at work in lieu of vaccination.”

Several major furniture makers had already enacted policies to abide by the ruling. MillerKnoll, Haworth and Steelcase, for instance, all mandated that employees be fully vaccinated. 

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has already weighed in on the ruling. Chuck Fowke chairman of the NAHB and a custom home builder from Tampa, Fla., said:

"In issuing its decision, the Supreme Court stated that 'OSHA has never before imposed such a mandate' and that Congress has 'declined to enact any measure similar to what OSHA has promulgated here.' The Supreme Court ruling shows that OSHA exceeded its authority by attempting to force more than 84 million workers to get COVID-19 vaccinations or compel them to submit to regular testing. NAHB strongly supports the efforts of the federal government to get as many Americans vaccinated as possible and has actively encouraged our members to make vaccines available to their workers. But using OSHA as the primary mechanism for this effort exceeds its statutory authority as a workplace safety agency."


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Larry Adams | Editor

Larry Adams is a Chicago-based writer and editor who writes about how things get done. A former wire service and community newspaper reporter, Larry is an award-winning writer with more than three decades of experience. In addition to writing about woodworking, he has covered science, metrology, metalworking, industrial design, quality control, imaging, Swiss and micromanufacturing . He was previously a Tabbie Award winner for his coverage of nano-based coatings technology for the automotive industry. Larry volunteers for the historic preservation group, the Kalo Foundation/Ianelli Studios, and the science-based group, Chicago Council on Science and Technology (C2ST).