On Jan. 25, 2022, OSHA filed a court document announcing that tomorrow the agency plans to withdraw the emergency temporary standard (ETS) requiring private employers to force their employees to undergo vaccination or be subject to constant testing and mask-wearing. This comes after the United States Supreme Court issued an administrative stay temporarily halting enforcement of the mandate for private employers, which had been challenged in court by multiple states and private employers, including Gulf Coast Restaurant Group, which is represented by the Mississippi Justice Institute (MJI).
The mandate, issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), originally required private companies with more than 100 employees to ensure that all of their workers are either fully vaccinated by Jan. 4th, 2022, or subject to weekly testing and mask-wearing. In addition to turning employers into federal vaccine enforcers, the regulation would also have resulted in many employers leaving the workforce entirely. After evaluating the policy, the Supreme Court ultimately sided with MJI, citing that OSHA's mandate was unlawful.
“On Jan. 13, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the Vaccination and Testing ETS, finding that challengers were likely to prevail on their claims,” read the court filing. “After evaluating the Court’s decision, OSHA decided to withdraw the Vaccination and Testing ETS as an enforceable emergency temporary standard.”
The court filing indicated that OSHA still plans to move forward with the rulemaking process for a separate, non-emergency proposed rule for private employers which could potentially require vaccination or testing for employees.
“We are glad to see that OSHA has finally dropped its unconstitutional vaccine mandate after months of litigation and uncertainty for private employers,” said MJI Director Aaron Rice. “If the agency includes similarly unconstitutional rules in any future regulations, we stand ready to stand up for the rights of Mississippi employees and businesses again.”
Attorney General Lynn Fitch represented the State of Mississippi in the lawsuit, which was filed in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals by a coalition of states and private employers. The suit was ultimately consolidated with similar lawsuits from around the nation in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, before being heard by the U.S. Supreme Court following the petitioners’ motions for an emergency administrative stay of the mandate.
“The Mississippi Justice Institute is proud to have represented Gulf Coast Restaurant Group in this litigation, and to have partnered with Attorney General Lynn Fitch to challenge this extraordinary federal overreach,” said MJI Director, Aaron Rice. “While we and our client are grateful for the development of the COVID vaccines, we could not stand by while the federal government violated the Constitution and infringed on the individual liberties of Mississippi businesses and workers.”