The federal contractor vaccine mandate was blocked nationwide Dec. 7 by a federal judge for the U.S. Southern District of Georgia.
Compliance with the mandate presents an “extreme economic burden” to employers, according to the judge.
The mandate works as a regulation of public health, which is not something Congress clearly authorized the President to issue, the judge states, according to law firm Seyfarth Shaw.
On Nov. 30, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky granted a motion for a preliminary injunction of the mandate, enjoining the federal government from enforcing the vaccine mandate for federal contractors and subcontractors for all covered contracts in Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee.
And now that applies across the U.S.
In applying the injunction nationally, the judge said he felt “limiting the relief to only those before the Court would prove unwieldy and would only cause more confusion.”
To comply, or to delay?
The deadline for compliance with the mandate is January 18, 2022, but the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force has indicated there would be some wiggle room for contractors who are making good faith efforts to comply.
With the nationwide injunction blocking enforcement of the mandate, contractors may be able to pause their compliance efforts, but Seyfarth Shaw states contractors should remain cognizant of the ramp-up time to become compliant if the injunction is lifted.
Motions filed to lift stays
Since the injunction blocks enforcement of the mandate, it’s unclear whether the government can continue to add the vaccine clause to new solicitations or through contract modifications while the injunction remains effective.
And the Biden administration will continue to appeal such decisions, having filed a motion Dec. 3 for an emergency stay allowing enforcement in the Kentucky case.
The administration also filed an emergency motion Nov. 24 to immediately lift the Fifth Circuit stay placed on OSHA’s COVID-19 vaccination emergency temporary standard, which applies to private employers with 100 or more employees.
In short, expect such a motion to be filed in this case as well.