Employers face diverse legal landscape after court decision on vaccine mandate

More than half of the adults in the United States are still in favor of vaccine requirements from employers, a Morning Consult poll shows, but last week’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to temporarily block the Biden Administration’s vaccine-or-test mandate is likely to make such employers less likely to implement them.

Although the support of 56% of COVID-19 vaccination mandates from employers indicated in the poll is less than 61% in September 2021 after the mandates were announced, the poll shows the support has increased to 66% among remote workers.

Still, the Supreme Court’s decision to prevent the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) from requiring large employers to ensure that their workers are either vaccinated against COVID-19 or frequently tested creates confusion for companies, including those who want to have vaccine mandates.

As The National Law Review points out: “Employers (and employees) have been grappling with a discordant national landscape of workplace vaccine mandates, including laws that require employers to implement mandatory vaccine policies, laws that prohibit employers from doing so, and the vast in-between where employees may choose to do so.”

The ruling “won’t bar employers who are determined to require that their workers are vaccinated,” though it complicates the issue for “employers that have their own mandates in place or want to proceed with one,” Business Insurance notes.

The ruling did prove to be an incentive for some companies to reverse previously imposed vaccine mandate with Fox Carolina singling out the reversal by Starbucks, which employs 228,000 people in the U.S., and General Electric Co. as being “among the most high-profile corporate actions in response to the Supreme Court decision.”

Additionally, some companies have been barred by state regulations in at least 16 states that have enacted laws banning companies from mandating COVID-19 vaccinations.

Among the latest states to join the trend, as reported by IndyStar, is Indiana, which approved a bill banning most Indiana private vaccine mandates.

As BIO’s VP for State Government Affairs Patrick Plues warned at the end of the year, “over 1,300 vaccine-related bills, many of which discourage vaccination are currently being considered by state legislatures across the country,” which means that the trend will continue in 2022.

“Politicization, fueled by approaching midterm elections, is driving extreme new proposals—including “a push to go beyond COVID-19 vaccines, and look at ways to increase exemptions for school immunization, which is concerning,” he said.

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