Yesterday, the Supreme Court blocked a federal Covid testing vaccine-or-test rule mandate for businesses with at least 100 workers, ruling that OSHA had likely exceeded the limits of its legal authority when issuing the mandate last June.
In an unsigned opinion the high court said that challenges are “likely to prevail.” “Although Congress has indisputably given OSHA the power to regulate occupational dangers, it has not given that agency the power to regulate public health more broadly,” the court said. “Requiring the vaccination of 84 million Americans, selected simply because they work for employers with more than 100 employees, certainly falls in the latter category.”
By contrast, the Court granted a separate request to allow a vaccine mandate for health care workers to take effect while litigation continues, ruling that Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra did have the authority to require all health care workers at Medicare and Medicaid funded institutions to get vaccinated, unless they get medical or religious exemptions. While multiple states argued that HHS did not have the scope to issue the mandate, the Court noted that “healthcare facilities that wish to participate in Medicare and Medicaid have always been obligated to satisfy a host of conditions that address the safe and effective provision of healthcare, not simply sound accounting.”
Can Employers Still Require Vaccinations or Testing?
In light of the Jan. 13 ruling, while the federal government can no longer require mandates for 100+ employee businesses, states and private businesses may still impose mandates as long as state laws permit.