LIEB BLOG

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Showing posts with label stay. Show all posts
Showing posts with label stay. Show all posts

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Supreme Court Stays OSHA Vaccine or Mask / Test Mandate

In staying the OSHA vaccine mandate, the Supreme Court wrote "that the Secretary lacked authority to impose the mandate."


As the Court explained "permitting OSHA to regulate the hazards of daily life—simply because most Americans have jobs and face those same risks while on the clock—would significantly expand OSHA’s regulatory authority without clear congressional authorization." The problem, as set forth by the Supreme Court, was that the mandate was indiscriminately applied. However, and to be CLEAR, the problem was not that it was unconstitutional, violated federalism, or anything else. 


The Supreme Court did not rule that either:

  • The Federal Government cannot issue a nationwide vaccine mandate; or 
  • Biden's Executive Branch cannot issue a nationwide vaccine mandate. 

Instead, it ruled that Congress did not grant OSHA the power to issue a nationwide vaccine mandate for all employers with 100 or more workers. 

In fact, the concurring opinion set it simply, "that power rests with the States and Congress, not OSHA."  


That is not to say OSHA has no power to regulate workplaces with respect to COVID. The Court carefully said OSHA does have power by writing that it was "not [] say[ing] OSHA lacks authority to regulate occupation-specific risks related to COVID–19. Where the virus poses a special danger because of the particular features of an employee’s job or workplace, targeted regulations are plainly permissible." As such, the Supreme Court invited a new mandate to be issued by OSHA and suggested that it targets COVID researchers or risks associated with crowded / cramped environments. 


As the concurring opinion explained, this case was decided on the Major Questions Doctrine, "'[w]e expect Congress to speak clearly' if it wishes to assign to an executive agency decisions 'of vast economic and political significance.'" Here, Congress did not clearly grant OSHA the power to do make this indiscriminate mandate. 


The fact that they didn't doesn't mean that they can't. Should Congress authorize OSHA now? 




Tuesday, November 09, 2021

OSHA Vaccine Stay in 5th Circuit - What Does That Mean - Nothing?

On November 6, 2021, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals stayed the OSHA Vaccine Emergency Temporary Standard (which we explained in this blog). However, the Circuit set a short briefing schedule and required the Government to respond to petitioners' motion for a permanent injunction by 5:00 PM on November 8th, which they did, and the petitioners to reply by 5:00 PM on November 9th, which they did


However, the stay seems to be a splashy headline about absolutely nothing. Specifically, the Emergency Temporary Standard's compliance date is not until January 4, 2022 and it impossible that the legality of the Emergency Temporary Standard is not determined before then. More so, as the Government points out, in great detail within their response, this case will be in Multidstrict Litigation "on or about November 16—21 days before the December 7 date that petitioners allege is the earliest date that any employee could be required to receive a vaccine and 51 days before petitioners’ employees would be required to start testing." Here, the 5th Circuit choosing to go it alone, is really strange. 


Regardless, the ultimate determination in this case will likely involve a ruling as to whether the United States Code (29 USC 655(c)), permitted OSHA to issue the vaccine Emergency Temporary Standard. The applicable Code section reads:

OSHA shall provide, without regard to the requirements

of chapter 5, title 5, United States Code [5 USCS §§ 500

et seq.], for an emergency temporary standard to take

immediate effect upon publication in the Federal Register

if he determines (A) that employees are exposed to grave

danger from exposure to substances or agents determined

to be toxic or physically harmful or from new hazards, and

(B) that such emergency standard is necessary to protect

employees from such danger.

Stated otherwise, the question before the Multidistrict Court is going to be whether OSHA has power to issue the Standard. To get to that answer, it is helpful to understand that a grave danger means one that causes "incurable, permanent, or fatal consequences to workers, as opposed to easily curable and fleeting effects on their health," according to precedent. 


Now, to make matters even more interesting, even if OSHA loses on this Emergency Temporary Standard before the Multidistrict Court, it can nonetheless issue a vaccine requirement through traditional rulemaking so long as such a requirement is "'reasonably necessary or appropriate' to address a 'significant risk' of harm in the workplace." As you can see, we are just in the starting gate and this horse race hasn't yet even started. Stay tuned.