In a pair of orders consolidating several pending cases, on December 22, 2021, the US Supreme Court agreed to hear emergency appeals from orders from multiple federal appellate courts relating to two of the pending COVID-19 vaccine mandates – the Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) issued by the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Executive Order issued by President Biden requiring vaccination for certain health care workers. As we’ve extensively covered in prior blog posts, both measures were initially enjoined by lower federal courts. The health care worker mandate remains blocked, but following the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals’ dissolution of the Fifth Circuit’s order enjoining the ETS, that requirement, applicable to all US private employers with 100 or more employees, was cleared to move forward, with initial compliance required by January 10, 2022.
The Court set the cases for oral argument on January 7, 2022, but did not stay the lower courts’’ decisions pending its hearing. Employers impacted by the ETS and health care worker mandate therefore should strongly consider continuing preparations for compliance in the event the Court decides that these measures can be enforced.