OSHA backs off business vaccine mandate

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration said on Wednesday it will abide by a court order that it “take no steps to implement or enforce” a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for workers at companies with more than 100 employees. 

“While OSHA remains confident in its authority to protect workers in emergencies, OSHA has suspended activities related to the implementation and enforcement of the [mandate] pending future developments in the litigation,” said a statement on the agency’s website.

What would the mandate do? Businesses would have had until Jan. 4 to require their indoor workers to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or get tested weekly. Violators could face fines of up to $14,000 per offense. 

Companies across the country sued to stop the mandate, and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals put it on hold while the lawsuits play out. OSHA requested the courts consolidate the cases against it, and the 6th Circuit was randomly selected to hear the litigation going forward under a special rule governing cases against federal agencies.

In August, the Gainesville City Commission approved a vaccine mandate for city employees, but in September a court issued an emergency injunction to block it. The same court upheld the injunction on Oct. 29.

In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis called a special session for the Florida Legislature that started this week that focuses on job protection and to prohibit both private employers and government entities from requiring employee vaccination. The state of Florida also filed a lawsuit against OSHA on Nov. 4 hours after OSHA and the Biden administration issued rules implementing vaccine mandates for American businesses. 

On Wednesday, the Florida Legislature passed four bills that DeSantis has until Nov. 24 to act on. They are: 

  • HB 1B – COVID-19 Mandates
  • CS/HB 3B – Public Records
  • HB 5B – Florida Occupational Safety and Health State Plan
  • HB 7B – Vaccinations During Public Health Emergencies

– With reporting from Mainstreet Daily News

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