January 14, 2022

Breaking News: The United States Supreme Court’s Decision on OSHA and Upholding the Vaccination Mandate

The United States Supreme Court ruled on Thursday, January 13, 2022, that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), likely lacked the authority to impose a vaccine mandate and stayed enforcement of the standard. The vaccine mandate would have required 84 million Americans to either obtain a COVID-19 vaccine or undergo weekly medical testing at their own expense. The Supreme Court stated that the order and its requirements are “instead a significant encroachment into the lives – and health – of a vast number of employees”.

According to the Court, while the Act under which OSHA operates empowers the Secretary to set workplace safety hazards, it does not allow the Secretary to set broad public health measures. The Court further reasoned that although COVID-19 is a risk that occurs in many workplaces, it is not an occupational hazard in most. Rather, the Court determined that “COVID-19 can and does spread at home, in schools, during sporting events, and everywhere else that people gather,” making it a universal risk. Permitting OSHA to regulate a hazard present in everyday life would “significantly expand” OSHA’s regulatory authority without clear congressional authorization. Finally, the Court addressed that in its half century of existence, OSHA has never before adopted a broad public health regulation of this kind.

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