On January 13, 2022, the Supreme Court reinstated the nationwide stay on implementation and enforcement of the OSHA COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). As a result of this decision, OSHA will have to suspend its ETS compliance efforts, many of which took effect on January 10, 2022.
The case will now go back to the lower courts for ligation on the merits of the ETS.
Responding to the decision, U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh issued the following statement:
I am disappointed in the court’s decision, which is a major setback to the health and safety of workers across the country. OSHA stands by the Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard as the best way to protect the nation’s workforce from a deadly virus that is infecting more than 750,000 Americans each day and has taken the lives of nearly a million Americans.
OSHA promulgated the ETS under clear authority established by Congress to protect workers facing grave danger in the workplace, and COVID is without doubt such a danger. The emergency temporary standard is based on science and data that show the effectiveness of vaccines against the spread of coronavirus and the grave danger faced by unvaccinated workers. The commonsense standards established in the ETS remain critical, especially during the current surge, where unvaccinated people are 15-20 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than vaccinated people. OSHA will be evaluating all options to ensure workers are protected from this deadly virus.
We urge all employers to require workers to get vaccinated or tested weekly to most effectively fight this deadly virus in the workplace. Employers are responsible for the safety of their workers on the job, and OSHA has comprehensive COVID-19 guidance to help them uphold their obligation.
Regardless of the ultimate outcome of these proceedings, OSHA will do everything in its existing authority to hold businesses accountable for protecting workers, including under the Covid-19 National Emphasis Program and General Duty Clause.