The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which covers Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, issued a stay Saturday freezing the Biden administration’s Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) that requires U.S. companies with at least 100 employees to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations or administer weekly testing.

The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Friday issued a COVID-19 ETS that requires employers with 100 or more employees to undergo COVID-19 vaccination or weekly testing. Companies impacted by the ETS have until January 4, 2022 to have all employees fully vaccinated or undergoing weekly testing. The ETS was effective immediately upon its publication.

Shortly after the ETS’s publication in the Federal Register, a group of plaintiffs led by the attorneys general of Texas, South Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Utah filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the statutory and constitutional authority of the mandate. The plaintiffs sought an emergency motion to stay enforcement of the mandate, which was granted on Saturday, pending expedited judicial review.

More than two dozen state attorneys general as well as various other organizations challenged the rule in various courts.

The White House on Monday urged businesses to implement the mandate regardless of the court stay. “We think people should not wait,” White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday. “We say, do not wait to take actions that will keep your workplace safe. It is important and critical to do and waiting to get more people vaccinated will lead to more outbreaks and sickness.”

“The administration clearly has the authority to protect workers, and actions announced by the president are designed to save lives and stop the spread of COVID-19,” Jean-Pierre continued.

“If OSHA can tell people to wear a hard hat on the job, to be careful around chemicals, it can put in place these simple measures to keep our workers safe,” White House chief of staff Ron Klain said of the vaccine mandate on NBC’s Meet the Press over the weekend. “I’m quite confident that when this finally gets fully adjudicated, not just a temporary order, the validity of this requirement will be upheld.”

 

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