The Supreme Court is holding a special session on Friday to consider two challenges to the Biden administration’s requirements for vaccines in the workplace.
The first challenges the rule that private employers require workers to be vaccinated or wear masks at work and undergo weekly tests, and the second challenges the administration’s rule that employees at health facilities who receive Medicare and Medicaid funds must be vaccinated.
The vaccine rules affect up to 100 million workers.
Supreme Court justices will consider whether to allow mandates to take effect, while lower courts continue to hear challenges to mandates. Friday’s arguments begin at 10 a.m. Eastern time.
The White House has pointed to the Labor Inspectorate’s authority to issue rules for emergencies in the workplace for up to six months to protect employees from “substances or agents that have been determined to be toxic or physically harmful or to new hazards.” This authority gives OSHA the responsibility to act, the administration has said.
The private employer mandate applies to companies with 100 or more employees. The second policy, from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, applies to 17 million healthcare professionals at facilities that receive federal funding from these services.
Lower courts continue to hear arguments about mandates for federal workers and federal entrepreneurs.
Critics say the government is excessive. Business and religious groups and Republican-led states say the rules will force millions of workers to “choose between losing their jobs or complying with an illegal federal mandate.”
On Capitol Hill, 48 senators and 136 members of Congress, mostly Republicans, filed a card with a friend of the court, saying Congress did not authorize OSHA to impose the vaccine mandate and called on the courts to block it.
The U.S. Postal Service has requested a temporary waiver from the vaccine mandate, saying that requiring its 650,000 workers to be vaccinated or tested weekly is likely to result in “many employees” either leaving or being disciplined, potentially damaging mail delivery. .
The Ministry of Labor will begin enforcing the OSHA mandates on January 10, but the agency said it would not issue citations for violations until February 9.
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