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U.S. Supreme Court Temporarily Halts OSHA ETS Vaccination Mandate

Update on the U.S. Supreme Court’s Ruling

Yesterday, January 13, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a nationwide stay of Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (“ETS”) which would have required a COVID-19 shot-or-test rule for private employers with 100 or more employees.

It is important to note that the Court’s decision is not the final word on whether OSHA’s ETS is legally dead. Instead, the Court provided the Sixth Circuit Court and other lower courts a legal lens by which they must now analyze the lawfulness of the ETS. Now, while these lower courts continue the legal debate, the Supreme Court has temporarily blocked the ETS from being enforced.

This issue of how this ruling affects employers depends on where the employer is geographically located. Individual states and local authorities may still impose COVID-19 healthcare requirements on employers operating within their jurisdictions. Moreover, insurance and healthcare coverage providers may also still require certain COVID-19-related preventive measures as a condition of coverage. In addition, OSHA, itself, may put forth a more limited rule to conform to the comments contained in the Court’s ruling, as discussed below.  Ultimately, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals must make a final determination on the ETS’s legality and subsequent enforcement.

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