“I do not view OSHA’s announcement about suspending activities related to implementing and enforcing the [emergency temporary standard] as anything other than a public acknowledgment that it is complying with the Fifth Circuit’s order,” said Brett Coburn, a partner with Alston & Bird in Atlanta.
A push to have employers of 100 or more workers implement vaccination-or-testing policies has come to a halt before ever getting started, as the Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has suspended its COVID-19 vaccination and testing emergency temporary standard (ETS).
OSHA had planned on rolling out its emergency temporary standard requiring applicable employers by Dec. 5 to require masks for all unvaccinated employees working in-person, and to have them provide weekly negative COVID-19 tests, beginning Jan. 4, 2022.
On Nov. 6, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans issued a temporary stay blocking OSHA’s pending vaccination-or-testing policy. Six days later, the federal appellate court announced an order staying enforcement of the emergency temporary standard pending a final ruling on its legality.
Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr tweeted about the suspension, citing lawsuits filed against the OSHA standard, including one by Georgia.
“OSHA has suspended its enforcement of Biden’s unlawful employer vaccine mandate following several lawsuits filed in circuits across the country, including Georgia’s own suit filed in the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals,” Carr tweeted. “The Biden administration never had the authority to impose this unconstitutional mandate in the first place. That’s why we will continue to fight this federal overreach to protect Georgia businesses and their employees.”
‘Staying the rule’
But labor and employment attorney Brett Coburn of Alston & Bird in Atlanta cautioned against considering the suspension a victory.
“I do not view OSHA’s announcement about suspending activities related to implementing and enforcing the [emergency temporary standard] as anything other than a public acknowledgment that it is complying with the Fifth Circuit’s order staying the rule while the legal challenges are litigated,” Coburn said. “I don’t view it as OSHA backing away from the ETS.”
Written by Cedra Mayfield.
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