Nearly Half of U.S. States Challenge COVID-19 Vaccination-or-Testing Directive

Allen Smith, J.D. By Allen Smith, J.D. November 5, 2021

[Editor's Note: The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans has issued a stay temporarily blocking President Joe Biden's new COVID-19 vaccination-or-testing policy for businesses with at least 100 employees companywide. The Department of Labor's chief legal officer said in response, "We are fully prepared to defend this standard in court."]

At least 24 states have filed lawsuits challenging the Biden administration's emergency temporary standard (ETS) requiring employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or tested weekly. We've gathered articles on the news from SHRM Online and other media outlets.

Several Lawsuits Filed

In one lawsuit filed Nov. 5, attorneys general from 11 states—Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Iowa, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming—sued, alleging that the vaccine-or-testing requirement "is unconstitutional, unlawful and unwise."

On the same day, attorneys general from other states—including Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Ohio and Tennessee—filed lawsuits against the president's directive.

The previous day, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and state Attorney General Ashley Moody sued. Earlier this week and last week, Alabama, Georgia and Texas filed separate but similar legal challenges.

(FOX Business)

'We Have Had Enough'

"I just think people are so sick of constantly being bossed around, restricted, mandated, all these different things," DeSantis said at a press conference. "We have had enough of it, and we want people to be able to make their own decisions."


White House Defends ETS

When asked for comment, the White House pointed to its news conference with Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, who said the administration has the authority to issue the new rules. She also said that the requirements, which cover more than 80 million workers, will keep Americans from dying and get more people back to work. "This is about putting the pandemic behind us," she said.

(The Wall Street Journal)


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced its ETS on Nov. 4 and published it in the Federal Register on Nov. 5. All unvaccinated workers must begin wearing masks by Dec. 5 and provide negative COVID-19 tests on a weekly basis beginning Jan. 4. Employers must pay employees for the time it takes to get vaccinated and recover from any side effects that prevent them from working. Companies are not required to pay for or provide the tests unless they are otherwise required to by state or local laws or in labor union contracts.

(SHRM Online)

Federal Workers Get Paid Time Off to Take Their Children to Get Vaccinated

In other vaccination news, the Biden administration announced that federal workers with young children will receive paid time off to take them to get a COVID-19 shot. Employees can receive up to four hours off per dose for each child, according to a memo released by the government's HR agency on Nov. 3.




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