‘Back to the status quo.’ Employers react to Supreme Court stay of vax mandate

Large private employers were assessing where they stood Friday after the U.S. Supreme Court a day earlier stayed one federal vaccine-or-test mandate while upholding another.

The Ohio Manufacturing Association (OMA) applauded the court’s ruling, which stopped the Biden administration from enforcing a vaccine-or-testing mandate for large private employers but also allowed a vaccination requirement for health care workers at facilities receiving federal money.

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“Our association has continuously supported employers’ rights to determine their own workplace policies with respect to COVID-19 vaccination,” the OMA said. “The court’s ruling reaffirms that private businesses are in the best position to decide what measures make the most sense to protect their workforces and company operations.”

Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce CEO and president Chris Kershner said his organization applauds the court decision.

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Chris Kershner is president and CEO of the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce

Credit: Caroline Williams

Chris Kershner is president and CEO of the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce

Credit: Caroline Williams

Combined ShapeCaption
Chris Kershner is president and CEO of the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce

Credit: Caroline Williams

Credit: Caroline Williams

“It’s good to see the Supreme Court upholding the foundational freedoms on which our free enterprise economy was built,” Kershner said.

“Instead of navigating these onerous government mandates, business owners can get back to do what’s important – running their businesses.”

Brandon Dobyns, a Dayton Taft Law attorney, said he wasn’t surprised by the ruling.

Dobyns, who also serves as counsel for the Dayton Defense industry group, said many of his colleagues who regularly deal with OSHA regulations felt that the mandate was “on the shakiest footing of any of the mandates that have been imposed by the federal government.”

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Brandon Dobyns, a Dayton Taft Law attorney,

Brandon Dobyns, a Dayton Taft Law attorney,

Combined ShapeCaption
Brandon Dobyns, a Dayton Taft Law attorney,

“What this means for employers is that we’re back to the status quo before the Sixth Circuit lifted the stay,” Dobyns said, referring to a Dec. 17 U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reinstatement of the vaccine-or-test mandate for big businesses, which lifted a stay that the Fifth Circuit had imposed.

“This case will still have to run its course in the lower courts, but will likely result in the mandate being overturned,” Dobyns also said.

Meanwhile, employers cannot be fined for deciding not to impose a mandate-or-test regime. However, they similarly cannot be held responsible in most states if they voluntarily impose such a rule, the attorney also said.

“The choice to voluntarily do so will largely depend on the ability to replace employees who may quit over such a mandate,” Dobyns said. “I would hazard a guess, however, that any company who has the appetite to impose such a voluntary mandate, has already done so.”

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services rule, meanwhile, was more targeted, and had greater basis, as the local attorney and the nation’s top court saw it. “The Supreme Court recognized this, and the writing is on the wall that the lower courts will probably uphold this rule.”

The National Retail Federation, the nation’s largest retail trade organization and one of the groups that challenged the OSHA action, called the court’s decision “a significant victory for employers,” the Associated Press reported.

Chris Spear, president of the American Trucking Associations, another of the groups that fought the OSHA rule, said it “would interfere with individuals’ private health care decisions,” the AP said.

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