Supreme Court Blocks OSHA Vaccine-or-Test Mandate for Employers

The Supreme Court on Thursday temporarily blocked the Biden administration’s vaccine-or-test mandate for large employers, but allowed a vaccine-only mandate for health providers at federally funded facilities.

The OSHA regulation would have required companies with at least 100 workers to mandate all employees be vaccinated or provide weekly negative coronavirus test results and wear face coverings to work on-site.

While lower courts were split, the conservative Supreme Court majority ruled the employer vaccine-or-test mandate was an overreach. The justices said the challengers, a coalition of businesses and 27 Republican-led states, were likely to succeed on the merits.

“The Secretary has ordered 84 million Americans to either obtain a COVID–19 vaccine or undergo weekly medical testing at their own expense,” the justices wrote. “It is instead a significant encroachment into the Lives—and health—of a vast number of employees. … There can be little doubt that OSHA’s mandate qualifies as an exercise of such authority.”

The majority said OSHA’s standards are meant to regulate workplaces only, and COVID-19 is a public health issue, not just a workplace one.

“Although COVID-19 is a risk that occurs in many workplaces, it is not an occupational hazard in most. COVID–19 can and does spread at home, in schools, during sporting events, and everywhere else that people gather,” the justices wrote.