Appeals Court Halts OSHA Vaccination/Testing for Large Employers

On November 6, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit  ruled in favor of a legal challenge to new employment rules requiring employers with 100 or more employees — including all Maryland counties — to develop, implement and enforce a COVID-19 vaccination-or-testing policy.

The court’s order temporarily blocks the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidance from going into effect.

The rules were set to go into effect on January 4, 2022, at which date all “large” employer staff would need to either show proof of vaccination or undergo weekly COVID testing. Employers — including Maryland counties — were required to implement vaccination/testing plans by December 5 of this year. It is to-be-seen if these dates will hold, as the stay in federal court currently freezes requirements for employers.

The ruling comes as several states and other stakeholders challenged the  guidance, several of which challenges remaining ongoing. Reuters explained the variety of stakeholders challenging the new rules:

Saturday’s court order came in response to a joint petition from several businesses, advocacy groups, and the states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Utah. The rule is also facing separate legal challenges before other courts.

The White House and Department of Labor have until 5 p.m. today (November 8) to respond to the ruling.

At the MACo Winter Conference session, “Navigating a New World: Counties and the Post-Pandemic Workplace,” attendees will hear about the new challenges and opportunities a post-COVID workplace offers, especially for counties as major employers.

The 2021 MACo Winter Conference, “Time to Reboot: Tomorrow’s Tech Today,” will be held at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Hotel in Cambridge, MD from December 8-10.

Learn more about MACo’s Winter Conference:

Useful links on the new COVID employer rules: