Supreme Court Halts COVID-19 Vaccine Rule

In a 6-3 decision, the Court reimposed the “stay” on the OSHA ETS Rule preventing OSHA from enforcing its rule, concluding that the plaintiffs were “likely to succeed on the merits of their claim that the [OSHA] Secretary lacked authority to impose the mandate.” 

Late this afternoon, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its much-anticipated decisions relating to the vaccine mandates issued by OSHA (i.e., OSHA ETS Rule for employers with 100+ employees) and the CMS (i.e., the CMS vaccine mandate for healthcare workers). 

In a 6-3 decision, the Court reimposed the “stay” on the OSHA ETS Rule preventing OSHA from enforcing its rule, concluding that the plaintiffs were “likely to succeed on the merits of their claim that the [OSHA] Secretary lacked authority to impose the mandate.”  According to the Court’s majority, the OSHA ETS Rule was “no everyday exercise of federal power.  It is instead a significant encroachment into the lives—and health—of a vast number of employees.”  Although it is only stayed, the majority opinion is likely the “death knell” of the OSHA ETS Rule because OSHA will be barred from enforcing its rule while the Sixth Circuit makes a decision on the merits.

In a 5-4 decision, the Court removed a lower court’s injunction preventing CMS from enforcing its vaccine mandate against healthcare employers in 25 states.  According to the Court’s majority, CMS has authority to issue the mandate: “We . . . conclude that the [CMS] Secretary did not exceed his statutory authority in requiring that, in order to remain eligible for Medicare and Medicaid dollars, the facilities covered by the interim rule must ensure that their employees be vaccinated against COVID–19.”

Read the OSHA ETS Ruling
Read the CMS Ruling

Bottom Line
OSHA ETS Rule is “stayed” and will likely be thrown out by the Sixth Circuit at some point before it expires in the next 6 months.  The CMS vaccine mandate, however, will be allowed to go into effect in all 50 states.

As SMACNA digests these decisions, there will be additional guidance posted on SMACNA Connect in the COVID-19 Community.  Please continue to monitor this free resource for members, and if you are not currently a SMACNA Connect participant, please follow these instructions to log in and add yourself.  

Please direct questions to any member of the Labor Relations Team.

Related Information:
SMACNA Member Update | SMACNA 11/18/2021
Fact Sheet: Biden Administration Announces Details of Two Major Vaccination Policies | The White House
OSHA ETS Rule Says Contractors w/100+ Employees to Mandate COVID-19 Vaccination or Testing by 1/4/22 | SMACNA
Federal Vaccine Guidance