Labor and employment attorney on Supreme Court halting COVID-19 vaccine rule for businesses

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The Biden Administration announced months ago that it was going to require all companies with 100 employees or more to mandate their staff be vaccinated against COVID-19 or face weekly testing and wear a mask while at work.

Thursday, the Supreme Court of The United States put an end to that mandate.

News10NBC talked to a Labor and Employment Attorney to find out how this will impact Rochester employers, and businesses.

Nixon Peabody’s Kim Harding tells us this affects at least 84 million Americans nationwide and the companies they work for.

"The Court’s decision today only prohibits the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) from enforcing a rule or penalizing an employer for not implementing a vaccination mandate, and or testing policy," Harding said.

The Court’s 6-3 vote blocks Biden’s Federal Order. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden is pushing ahead anyway.

"You’ll see this in his statement, will be calling on, and will continue to call on businesses to immediately join us those who have already stepped up including one-third of fortune 100 companies to institute vaccination requirements to protect their workers, customers and communities," Psaki said.

Harding said this is one less government mandate companies have to comply with.

"The relief from the administrative burden of collecting tests, collecting vaccination cards, maintaining rosters, and things of that nature. So I think it’s probably our HR Departments who are the happiest about this," Harding said.

The problem centered on OSHA’s general duty clause with companies.

"The Court really said that what OSHA had done was issue a public health standard which was broadly applicable to the universal risk of COVID-19, and that COVID-19 was not a workplace-specific risk, and therefore had exceeded their authority," Harding said.

One thing the Court’s decision doesn’t include is reinstatement for employees fired for not getting vaccinated.

"Employees who were previously terminated have no additional rights to be reinstated based on the Supreme Court’s decision," Harding said.

She went on to say that employers remain free to implement their own vaccination mandates, testing, and face-covering policies. The Supreme Court is allowing the Biden Administration to continue with its vaccine mandates for most health care workers across the nation.