Groups Sue Biden Administration Over Mandatory Worker Vaccinations For Larger Employers

Casey Harper, The Center Square

Thursday’s announcement by the Biden administration set January as the deadline to implement a new mandate for private-sector vaccines. The mandate could have an impact on 100 million Americans. The mandate was criticized by a business group as well as a think tank that is free to market.

The federal regulation comes from the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Biden had announced the mandate back in September. OSHA has now released the details, including that 100-plus employees are required to be vaccinated by OSHA or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing.

OSHA also requires employers to make sure that unvaccinated workers wear masks at work and in vehicles with others for work purposes.

“The Administration has previously implemented policies requiring millions of federal employees and federal contractors to be fully vaccinated. To make it easy for businesses and workers to comply, the Administration is announcing today that the deadline for workers to receive their shots will be the same for the OSHA rule, the CMS rule, and the previously-announced federal contractor vaccination requirement,” the White House said Thursday. “Across all three requirements, workers will need to have the necessary shots to be fully vaccinated – either two doses of Pfizer or Moderna, or one dose of Johnson & Johnson – no later than January 4, 2022.”

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Concerns are raised about the potential for a national worker shortage as people who refuse to get the COVID-19 vaccination will be forced to quit their jobs or lose their jobs. There are also concerns over testing costs and enforcement of the mandate.

Although the fine for violating this regulation will be $14,000 per violation (the administration stated that multiple factors would also be taken into consideration),

“Yeah, so, and again, depending upon the number of violations that would be identified would have some, you know, a significant impact on the scope and scale of the amount of a penalty, that would be cited and put into the citation,” a senior administration official said during a press call on the matter. “We also have a scale that is increasing with more severe violations. So, for example, if we identify that an employer is willfully violating a standard, then that penalty is significantly higher than a workplace that is not willfully doing so.”

According to the official, violations will also play an important role.

“So $14,000 per item that would be cited,” the official added. “So if there were multiple items out of the standard that we cited, there would be, you know, multiple penalties that could be issued along with that. We would also assess the likelihood of multiple violations based on how many instances we looked at. There could also be many of these violations. But it would depend upon the situation during the inspection and the evidence that was presented.”

Critics have reacted strongly to the announcement, claiming it is too broad and intrusive and crosses the border of federal government overreach. Rasmussen’s latest report Polling found 52% of Americans support those who would resist the workplace mandate. 

Job Creators Network is a business advocacy organization that filed a suit Thursday at the U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit. This lawsuit is filed on behalf of both an employee and several companies that are challenging the rule.

“The Biden Administration’s vaccine mandate is clearly illegal and will have a devastating impact on our small business community and our entire economy. JCN is suing the Administration on the grounds that OSHA does not have the authority to impose such a mandate,” said Alfredo Ortiz, JCN President and CEO. “Even if OSHA did have the power, there is neither the grave danger nor necessity to issue such a sweeping regulation.”

Buckeye Institute is an Ohio-based think tank on free markets. It also reported that it had sued the Biden government over this mandate.

“This unconstitutional and ill-advised vaccine mandate not only impacts companies like Phillips Manufacturing and Sixarp and their employees, but it will also devastate an already fragile labor market and supply chains that are still struggling to recover from the pandemic,” Robert Alt, president and chief executive of The Buckeye Institute, who is counsel of record representing Phillips Manufacturing and Sixarp LLC, said in a statement. “In imposing this mandate, the Biden Administration has sought to circumvent limits on federal power, and – in so doing – has exceeded anything the Occupational Safety and Health Act allows. The mandate will cripple our economy, injure mid-size businesses who cannot find workers as it is, and – worse yet – violate the cherished principles of freedom of conscience upon which our great nation was founded.”

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The legal group Alliance Defending Freedom has also threatened to sue the Biden administration, pointing out “executive overreach.”

“If the mandate does what the president promises, private and religious employers failing to comply could be subject to crippling fines,” ADF said in its threat of legal action. 80 million Americans could be affected. You and perhaps your closest friends may be affected.

“ADF will take legal action if the Biden administration follows through on this executive overreach,” the group said. “ADF is responding to federal government overreach because the executive branch simply has no authority to tell private businesses and nonprofits that they must force their employees to be vaccinated or submit to costly weekly testing.”

Critics point out, however, that Biden’s administration had previously stated that such mandates were not part of the federal government.

“Well, I think the question here – one, that’s not the role of the federal government; that is the role that institutions, private-sector entities, and others may take,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in July when asked about mandates.

This article was Syndicated by permission of The Center Square.