The American Trucking Associations was among 27 business groups to file an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 17 after the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals lifted the stay on the Biden Administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employers with 100 or more employees.
The mandate has been on hold since Nov. 6, when the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals granted an emergency motion to temporarily stay the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s rule’s enforcement.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled Dec. 17 that, contrary to the Fifth Circuit’s opinion, OSHA does have the authority to require such a mandate. The court cited provisions in the Occupational Safety and Health Act that established OSHA that reinforce OSHA’s authority to regulate infectious diseases and viruses.
“Based on the OSH Act’s language, structure, and Congressional approval, OSHA has long asserted its authority to protect workers against infectious diseases,” the court ruled. “…Given OSHA’s clear and exercised authority to regulate viruses, OSHA necessarily has the authority to regulate infectious diseases that are not unique to the workplace. Indeed, no virus – HIV, HBV, COVID-19 – is unique to the workplace and affects only workers. And courts have upheld OSHA’s authority to regulate hazards that co-exist in the workplace and in society but are at heightened risk in the workplace.”
The three-judge Sixth Circuit panel voted 2-1 to reverse the stay. The one dissenting judge, Judge Joan L. Larsen, agreed with the Fifth Circuit’s opinion that OSHA did not have authority to issue the mandate.
In response to the stay being lifted, OSHA said it would give some leniency in enforcement of the mandate by not issuing citations for noncompliance with any portions of the mandate before Jan. 10, and not issuing citations for noncompliance with the standard’s testing requirements before Feb. 9, “so long as an employer is exercising reasonable, good faith efforts to come into compliance with the standard. OSHA will work closely with the regulated community to provide compliance assistance.”
The American Trucking Associations on Monday said it has taken its legal challenge to the mandate to the Supreme Court.
“It’s evident that OSHA overstepped its statutory authority with this Emergency Temporary Standard, so make no mistake: ATA will not stop fighting this misguided policy until our members and industry are fully relieved from its harmful impact on our ability to keep America’s supply chain moving,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “That includes the movement of food, fuel, medical supplies, test kits, and the vaccine itself.”