Effect of Supreme Court’s Ruling on Vaccine Mandates

By now, many if not all of you, are aware that the United States Supreme Court recently issued a decision regarding vaccine mandates in the workplace. National Federation of Independent Business v. OSHA, 595 U.S.___(2022). The decision centered on the federal government’s authority via OSHA, if any, to impose such a mandate. The court decided that work places with more than 100 employees will not have to comply with a federal requirement that workers get COVID-19 vaccinations or for those unvaccinated, to be tested weekly and wear masks. In a separate decision, the court allowed a mandate for health care workers at federally funded facilities. Missouri v. Biden, 595 U.S.__(2022). Interestingly, in 1905 the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of mandatory smallpox vaccination programs to preserve public health. Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11 (1905).

The ruling does not limit the right of private employers to mandate vaccinations for their employees. Employers have the right to create and maintain their own policies to address the pandemic. Employers should create policies and practices that work for their company. However, in determining an appropriate response to the ongoing pandemic and a safe workplace, employers cannot ignore other applicable laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act.

So, who decides how much protection and of what kind, workers need from Covid-19? States and municipalities? Maybe. Employers? Definitely. If you need help creating a policy or dealing with employment related issues concerning the pandemic, please contact us.