Supreme Court Stays Enforcement of OSHA’s COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing ETS

On January 13, 2022, the Supreme Court granted applicants’ emergency motion to stay enforcement of the Occupational Health and Safety Administration’s (“OSHA”) COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (“ETS”). In its decision, the Court explained that the plaintiffs were likely to succeed in showing that OSHA lacked the statutory authority to mandate “84 million Americans to either obtain a COVID-19 vaccine or undergo weekly medical testing at their own expense.” The Court reasoned that “although COVID-19 is a risk that occurs in many workplaces, it is not an occupational hazard in most” and to permit “OSHA to regulate the hazards of daily life . . . would significantly expand OSHA’s regulatory authority without clear congressional authorization.” While the Court acknowledged that OSHA has authority to regulate occupational risks related to COVID-19 where the virus “poses a special danger because of the particular features of an employee’s job or workplace,” it emphasized that OSHA’s “indiscriminate approach” does not consider what is an occupational hazard versus a general risk.

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