On Saturday, President Joe Biden's Covid vaccination and testing requirements for private companies were temporarily blocked by a federal appeals court. This was just one day after they went into effect.
On Friday, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals heard petitions from several private companies and the Republican attorneys general of Texas (South Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi, Utah) challenging the mandate.
On Saturday, the court ordered that the testing and vaccine requirements be halted pending review because the petitions "give cause to believe that there are grave statutory or constitutional issues with this Mandate."
Former Presidents Donald Trump, Ronald Reagan appointed the three judges responsible for issuing the order: Kurt Damian Englehardt, Edith Hollan Jones and Stuart Kyle Duncan Duncan.
The Biden administration will have until Monday night to respond.
Seema Nanda (the top Labor Department lawyer), stated that the administration was "fully prepared" to defend this standard in court.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is responsible for workplace safety and security for the Labor Department. It developed the vaccine and testing requirements in emergency authority. This allows the agency to speed up the process of issuing workplace safety standards. This normally takes years.
After the challenge by the Republican attorneys general and companies, Nanda stated that the Occupational Safety and Health Act gives OSHA the authority and power to quickly respond to an emergency in which workers are in grave danger and a new standard of protection is required.
Companies with more than 100 employees must ensure that their staff have received all shots required for full vaccination. Unvaccinated workers must submit negative Covid-19 test every week to be allowed into the workplace after that date. Starting Dec. 5, unvaccinated workers will need to wear masks at work.
Nanda stated that the mandate "preempts any states or local requirements which ban or limit an employers authority to require vaccinations, face-coverings, or testing." Texas Governor. Greg Abbott, Texas Governor, banned vaccination mandates in the Lone Star State by an executive order.
In a Friday statement, Ken Paxton, Texas Attorney General, said that the mandate for vaccines was "a stunning abuse of federal power" and that it is "flatly inconstitutional." Paxton stated that the mandate is beyond OSHA's "limited power" and "specific responsibilities."
A petition was filed by several Texas-based companies to stop the mandates. They challenged OSHA's authority for emergency workplace safety standards. Congress established OSHA's emergency authority.
Burnett Specialists and Choice Staffing, as well as Staff Force, argued that they were in violation of Texas state laws or federal regulations by complying with the requirements.
They stated that the mandates would cause irreparable damage, including possible fines for non-compliance and the loss of employees to smaller businesses not covered by mandates.