OSHA Withdraws COVID-19 Vaccine-or-Test Rule

The agency’s move follows a loss at the U.S. Supreme Court, which blocked enforcement of the mandate for private employers.

January 25, 2022

COVID-19 Vaccination or Testing Document

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Occupational Safety and Health Administration this morning announced that it is withdrawing its November 5, 2021, COVID-19 vaccine-or-test emergency temporary standard for large employers, following the U.S. Supreme Court’s January 13 decision blocking enforcement of the rule while legal challenges play out in a lower court.

The OSHA rule directed private employers with 100 or more workers to either require their employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or pass a COVID-19 test at least weekly.

Multiple groups filed legal challenges to the OSHA rule in every circuit court in the United States. The first court to act was the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which issued a nationwide stay of the ETS, deciding that those challenging the rule were likely to prevail on the merits of the overall challenge.

NACS helped lead that case. Then in December 2021, the various challenges were consolidated into the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. A three-judge panel from the 6th Circuit in December voted to dissolve the existing stay of the rule. NACS and other applicants successfully appealed that decision at the Supreme Court, which was likely to take up the case again if the 6th Circuit decided to back the OSHA rule.

In a notice today, OSHA said, “After evaluating the Court’s decision, OSHA is withdrawing the Vaccination and Testing ETS as an enforceable emergency temporary standard.” The agency added that it is still in favor of vaccines for workers. “Notwithstanding the withdrawal of the Vaccination and Testing ETS, OSHA continues to strongly encourage the vaccination of workers against the continuing dangers posed by COVID-19 in the workplace.”