Supreme Court Halts OSHA ETS Vaccination and Testing Mandate

On January 13, 2022, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled to stay the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) vaccination and testing emergency temporary standard (ETS). The ETS was developed to establish a mandatory vaccination policy requirement for private employers with 100 or more employees. As a result, covered employers (those with 100 or more employees) are not currently required to comply with the ETS.

SCOTUS Reasoning

In its published decision, SCOTUS stated that OSHA was not given the power to regulate public health more broadly than occupational dangers. In addition, SCOTUS explained that challenges to the ETS were likely to succeed on the merits because the agency lacks the authority to impose the mandate. Specifically, the OSH Act only allows the agency to set workplace safety standards, not broad public health measures.

Finally, the court argues that the requirement that employees either become vaccinated or undergo weekly testing is not an exercise of federal power. Instead, SCOTUS stated the ETS represents a “significant encroachment into the lives—and health—of a vast number of employees.”

Impact on Employers

Given this new stay, employers are not required to comply with the OSHA ETS vaccination and testing mandate at this time. The case now returns to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to determine whether the ETS is beyond OSHA’s authority. Based on the reasoning of the Supreme Court, which indicated that OSHA had overstepped its bounds by regulating public health generally rather than just occupational health, it seems unlikely that the ETS will be revived. However,  employers will need to continue monitoring legal developments to learn about a final decision on the ETS.

Bene-Care will continue to monitor the status of this regulation, and will post updates as they become available. Please contact us with any questions you may have.