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HR Update: US Supreme Court Issues their Decisions on the Vaccination Mandates

By January 13, 2022 No Comments

On January 13, 2022, the United States Supreme Court issued their highly awaited decisions in two separate cases stemming from vaccination mandates. The OSHA vaccination mandate was blocked, while the health care worker vaccination mandate was allowed to proceed.

OSHA’s Vaccine or Test Mandate

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) implemented an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS)rule mandating vaccinations for employers with 100 or more workers, which took effect on January 9, 2022.  Today, the Supreme Court issued an order blocking the rule from going into effect. The Court ruled, in National Federation of Independent Business v. Department of Labor, that:

  • OSHA does not have the regulatory authority to implement and enforce a vaccination mandate; and
  • Vaccinations are broad public health measures falling outside the scope of workplace safety standards; and
  • COVID-19 is not an occupational hazard for most people even though it occurs in many workplaces. 

To read the Supreme Court’s ruling in its entirety, link here.

CMS’s Health Care Vaccine Mandate

The Supreme Court ruled, in Biden v. Missouri, that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)’s rule requiring mandatory vaccinations for workers in CMS-certified facilities was within the scope of their Conditions of Participations for health care providers and suppliers participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. In order to protect individuals who receive health care services from CMS-certified facilities, those Conditions allow the CMS to implement and enforce rules. As such, the Court permitted the rule for healthcare workers to take effect.

Although the CMS originally suspended the vaccination rule pending litigation, they reinstated its implementation, on December 28, 2021, for health care workers in 25 states and Washington D.C.  With today’s Supreme Court’s decision, health care works in the other 27 states’ (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming) will be subject to the vaccination mandate, with an allowance for either the medical or religious exemption.  The February 28, 2022 deadline may be enforced for the remaining states, but further guidance from the CMS will be needed.

To read the Supreme Court’s ruling in its entirety, link here.

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