Supreme Court Blocks COVID Vaccine Mandate for Employers
The Supreme Court on Thursday blocked the Biden administration from enforcing its sweeping vaccine-or-test requirements for large private companies, but allowed a vaccine mandate to stand for medical facilities that take Medicare or Medicaid payments. The rulings came three days after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) emergency measure for businesses started to take effect. The mandate required that workers at businesses with 100 or more employees get vaccinated or submit a negative COVID test weekly to enter the workplace. It also required unvaccinated workers to wear masks indoors at work.
Total Retail's Take: The stay offered by the Supreme Court's decision was welcomed by the National Retail Federation (NRF), which has fought against the vaccination mandate, which figures to have an outsized impact on many of its member organizations, especially those with significant brick-and-mortar store footprints.
“While NRF has maintained a strong and consistent position related to the importance of vaccines in helping to overcome this pandemic, the Supreme Court’s decision to stay OSHA’s onerous and unprecedented ETS is a significant victory for employers," the trade association expressed in a press release. "As NRF and other plaintiffs articulated in our briefs before the court, OSHA clearly exceeded its authority promulgating its original mandate under emergency powers without giving stakeholders the benefit of a rulemaking process.
“NRF urges the Biden Administration to discard this unlawful mandate and instead work with employers, employees and public health experts on practical ways to increase vaccination rates and mitigate the spread of the virus in 2022.”
While there won't be federal enforcement of the vaccine mandate, several private sector employers, including Nike and Columbia Sportswear, are creating and enforcing their own policies, including the termination of unvaccinated workers.
Joe Keenan is the executive editor of Total Retail. Joe has more than 10 years experience covering the retail industry, and enjoys profiling innovative companies and people in the space.