The U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has suspended the implementation and enforcement of its controversial vaccine mandate just days after a federal court temporarily blocked the rule, citing “grave statutory and constitutional issues.”
OSHA announced it would “suspend activities related to the implementation and enforcement of the [Emergency Temporary Standard] pending future developments in the litigation,” according to OSHA’s website.
The administration’s backdown comes less than a week after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued and reaffirmed an explosive motion to freeze the vaccine mandate prompted by the Biden administration. On Nov. 12, the court ordered that OSHA “take no steps to implement or enforce” the mandate “until further court order.”
The rule affects more than 80 million working Americans, 31.7 million of whom are unvaccinated, and requires employers with 100 or more workers to mandate the vaccine or weekly testing. If employees refuse to comply, they risk losing their jobs.
The judges’ scathing 22 pages of opinions called the mandate a “one-size- fits-all sledgehammer that makes hardly any attempt to account for differences in workplaces (and workers) that have more than a little bearing on workers’ varying degrees of susceptibility to the supposedly ‘grave danger’ the Mandate purports to address.” The rule, the judges wrote, is “anything but a ‘delicate exercise’ of this ‘extraordinary power.’”
The court’s original stay came after joint entities from multiple states including Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Utah challenged the mandate. OSHA’s latest announcement paired with ongoing legal battles makes the future of the rule unclear leading up to its original enforcement date of Jan. 4, though many employees have already been forced to get the jab in anticipation of the rule.
At least 27 states have sued the Biden administration over its OSHA mandate, bashing the administration for overreach.