The Labor Department extended the deadline for full implementation of its rule requiring large companies to vaccinate their employees against the coronavirus or be tested every week to Feb. 9, after weeks of legal battles that created violence. uncertainty and confusion for employers.
The department’s decision came on Saturday, a day after a federal appeals committee reinstated the Biden administration’s rule requiring companies with at least 100 employees to require their employees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or to undergo weekly tests before January 4. The rule had also required those employers to require masks for unvaccinated workers by December 5.
Friday’s ruling, rendered by a three-judge panel from the Cincinnati Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, overturned a ruling by its New Orleans counterpart, the Fifth Circuit, which blocked the rule last month.
The government had argued that its vaccine mandate fell within the authority of the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, to adopt a temporary emergency standard, provided that it could show that the workers were exposed to a “serious danger” and that the rule was necessary.
Several of the many plaintiffs who challenged this rule immediately asked the Supreme Court to intervene in its “emergency” case. Sixth Circuit appeals are to be considered by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who under Supreme Court rules can, in theory, make a decision on his own, but is more likely to send the case back to Court. supreme for consideration.
The Labor Department said in a statement on Saturday that it “would not issue citations for non-compliance” with any requirement of the rule until Jan. 10. He said he would not issue citations for failing to meet the standard’s testing requirements until February 9. “as long as the employer makes reasonable and good faith efforts to comply with the standard.
While the Biden administration has urged companies to move forward with enforcing the rule despite legal uncertainty, many have waited until the matter is fully resolved by the court. Business groups, including the National Retail Federation, have called for a deferral of the requirements.
Companies that do not comply with the rule can be fined. An OSHA penalty is typically $ 13,653 for each serious violation, but can go up to 10 times that amount if OSHA determines that the violation is intentional or repeated. OSHA has a whistleblower system that allows workers to report violations of its rules, although labor lawyers have said it historically tends not to have enough inspectors.