Judge blocks Biden vaccine mandate for federal employees

The decision was based on the Supreme Court’s ruling regarding a similar mandate for private employers

Judge blocks Biden vaccine mandate for federal employees

President Joe Biden has been dealt another devastating blow, as his vaccine mandate for federal employees has been blocked by a federal judge.

In U.S. District Court in Galveston, TX, Judge Jeffrey Brown ruled that Biden’s executive order “amounts to a presidential mandate that all federal employees consent to vaccination against COVID-19 or lose their jobs,” CNBC reported. “Because the President’s authority is not that broad, the court will enjoin the second order’s enforcement.”

Brown’s ruling said it was a “bridge too far” to let the president, “with the stroke of a pen and without the input of Congress, require millions of federal employees to undergo a medical procedure as a condition of their employment.” In response, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that 98% of federal workers are already vaccinated.

This latest setback for the Biden administration comes on the heels of the Supreme Court ruling against a federal vaccine mandate for private employers.

Read more: ‘No recourse’ for employees who lost jobs because of vaccine mandates, lawyer says

The mandate, which would have impacted more than 80 million workers, required that workers at businesses with 100 or more employees be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to weekly coronavirus tests to confirm they don’t have the virus. It also required unvaccinated workers to wear masks indoors at work. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimated that the emergency temporary standard (ETS) could save more than 6,500 lives and prevent over 250,000 hospitalizations in the six months that it would be in effect.

“OSHA has never before imposed such a mandate. Nor has Congress. Indeed, although Congress has enacted significant legislation addressing the COVID–19 pandemic, it has declined to enact any measure similar to what OSHA has promulgated here,” the conservatives wrote in an unsigned opinion, The Associated Press reported.

“Acting outside of its competence and without legal basis, the Court displaces the judgments of the government officials given the responsibility to respond to workplace health emergencies,” Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor wrote in a joint dissent.

Despite the Supreme Court’s ruling, OSHA will continue to issue guidance and citations for employers who fail to implement health and safety measures related to COVID-19. For example, OSHA already requires employers to maintain proper cleaning procedures and follow isolation and quarantine guidelines.

Conversely, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Biden’s vaccine mandate for health care workers at facilities receiving Medicare and Medicaid funding. The mandate affects more than 17 million workers in approximately 76,000 healthcare facilities and government-funded home healthcare workers across the country.

Only justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito noted their dissents in the health care case. “The challenges posed by a global pandemic do not allow a federal agency to exercise power that Congress has not conferred upon it. At the same time, such unprecedented circumstances provide no grounds for limiting the exercise of authorities the agency has long been recognized to have,” the justices wrote in an unsigned opinion, saying the “latter principle governs” in the healthcare cases.

Recent articles & video

Four ways to improve recruiting and retention

Department of Labor releases final rule on 401(k) plan investments

How to Create a Phenomenal Employee Experience & Future Proof Your HR Strategy in 2023

Can an employer stop medical treatment authorized for a worker's injury?

Most Read Articles

Amazon DEI program manager on increasing mental health benefits

Safeguard Global chief people officer on effectively leading a hybrid workforce

Does your benefits package include an employee discounts program?