Vaccine Mandate for Federal Contractors Blocked in Three States

Allen Smith, J.D. By Allen Smith, J.D. November 30, 2021
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The U.S. Supreme Court

[Editor's note: On Dec. 7, a federal district court in Georgia blocked the vaccine directive for federal contractors nationwide.]

The Biden administration's vaccine requirements are facing renewed attention, as a federal district court in Kentucky on Nov. 30 temporarily blocked the directive that employees of federal contractors and subcontractors get vaccinated. 

"Can the president use congressionally delegated authority to manage the federal procurement of goods and services to impose vaccines on the employees of federal contractors and subcontractors?" the district court asked. "In all likelihood," it continued, "the answer to that question is no." The district court's opinion applies to Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee, which brought suit challenging the directive. 

In a separate action, the White House encouraged federal agency managers not to fire federal employees who missed their deadline to get vaccinated last week. The Office of Management and Budget encouraged managers to stick to education, counseling and, at most, letters of reprimand for unvaccinated federal employees until Jan. 1, 2022.

We've gathered articles on the news from SHRM Online and other media outlets.

Federal Contractor Rules Blocked in Three States

In guidance for federal contractors updated on Nov. 10, the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force clarified that covered contractor employees must be fully vaccinated no later than Jan. 18, 2022.

This requirement is not affected by the blocking of the ETS, but several state attorneys general are challenging this federal directive, too. A Nov. 30 opinion temporarily blocked the federal contractor COVID-19 vaccine requirement in three states.

(Bloomberg Law), (SHRM Online) and (Seyfarth)

Biden Urges Vaccination in Light of Omicron Variant

In response to the omicron variant of COVID-19, President Joe Biden again urged those in the U.S. to get vaccinated, obtain booster shots and wear masks in public places.

(USA Today)

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Firing of Federal Workers Likely Won't Happen Until 2022

Federal workers who have resisted the Biden administration's separate vaccine requirement for federal employees likely won't be fired until 2022. The White House is encouraging education and counseling as a first step. The vaccine requirement for the 3.5 million employees in the federal workforce took effect last week. The Office of Management and Budget encouraged managers to stick to education, counseling and, at most, letters of reprimand for unvaccinated federal employees until Jan. 1, 2022.

(Bloomberg)

OSHA Pauses Vaccine-or-Testing Rule

Businesses with at least 100 employees are covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) emergency temporary standard (ETS), which would require employers to prepare their COVID-19 vaccination policies and begin having unvaccinated employees wear masks by Dec. 6. Covered businesses would also have to ensure that employees who are not fully vaccinated are tested for COVID-19 at least weekly starting Jan. 4.

However, a federal circuit court stayed the rule while a legal challenge makes its way through the courts. OSHA has taken some pressure off employers by suspending implementation and enforcement of the ETS. On Nov. 23, the U.S. Department of Justice asked a federal appeals court to reinstate the ETS.

(SHRM Online)

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