A US federal appeals court panel has ruled President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for larger private employers can take effect.
The 2-1 ruling from a panel of judges on the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati reverses a lower-court ruling that had paused the requirement.
Republican-led states and conservative groups are challenging the rule, which would apply to companies with at least 100 employees and affect some 84 million workers across the United States.
The rule for large employers, which the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued last month, forces such companies to require vaccinations by January 4th and to require unvaccinated employees to wear masks indoors. Employers also are allowed to give their workers the option to be tested weekly instead of getting the vaccine.
Opponents have vowed to appeal Friday’s ruling to the US Supreme Court. The mandate was originally scheduled to take effect on January 4th.
The contested rule has faced a wave of legal actions from businesses and Republican-controlled states, and it appears destined to swiftly reach the Supreme Court.
“The record establishes that Covid-19 has continued to spread, mutate, kill, and block the safe return of American workers to their jobs,” wrote Judge Jane B. Stranch. “To protect workers, OSHA can and must be able to respond to dangers as they evolve.”
The White House welcomed the decision. “The OSHA vaccination or testing rule will ensure businesses enact measures that will protect their employees,” Kevin Munoz, a White House spokesperson, said in a statement.
“Especially as the U.S. faces the highly transmissible omicron variant, it’s critical we move forward with vaccination requirements and protections for workers with the urgency needed in this moment.” – Agencies