Businesses in limbo as OSHA places temporary hold on enforcing federal vaccine mandate

Published: Nov. 17, 2021 at 9:40 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Businesses are in limbo as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) officially places a temporary hold on enforcing the federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The hold affects the Biden administration’s mandate requiring a COVID vaccine for all businesses with more than 100 employees. The question now is what this means for businesses in Kansas,

Eric Metz, an employment attorney with Wichita’s Triplett Woolf Garretson, LLC indicated businesses should be cautious and closely follow developments in considering how best to move forward in response to mandates.

“If you’re too early, you, I think can scare employees into leaving on their own if they are adverse to vaccination and don’t have an option. They may lose employees when they may not otherwise have to,” Metz said.

In advising businesses on how to move forward with a court ruling pending and the deadline still in place, Metz mentioned the burden on employees and employers.

“It’s likely that these current deadlines won’t stand because we will be so close to them by a court ruling,” he said. It will be a huge burden on employers ad employers, but I could be wrong, and that’s why being prepared, but not launching a program is probably the best advice.”

Looking ahead, Metz also discussed the timeline for workers and employers trying to navigate through uncertainty.

“It’s unclear,” he said. “The circuit lottery occurred and they drew the Sixth Circuit to decide. This now is also a fairly conservative court. Not quite as conservative as the Fifth Circuit,” he said. “I believe six of their 16 current judges are Trump appointees and the great majority [are] Republicans. Whether that’s predictive of anything, we don’t know, but the fact is, it’s a relatively conservative jurisdiction. So, some think that leads to a likelihood that they will at least continue to stay or modify the program.”

To meet OSHA’s original Jan. 4 deadline, you would have to start the two-dose COVID-19 vaccination process by Nov. 23 to be fully immunized by the deadline. With Nov. 23 less than a week away, the court, employers and employees are working with a tight timeline. This is why legal experts believe that original Jan. 4 deadline will get pushed back.

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