The Supreme Court on Thursday blocked the Biden administration from enforcing a vaccine-or-test mandate for major employers, parts of which would go into effect Monday.
Here’s what it means for businesses.
The government could try again with a new rule.
It could be quick to come up with a more tailored emergency rule for a specific set of higher-risk companies, addressing court majority criticism of the employer mandate as a “blunt tool”. Or the agency can use the traditional rule-making process, but that can take years.
Employers can still enforce their own mandates, but it could be more fraught.
The blockade of a federal rule subjects larger employers to a patchwork of city and state vaccine regulations that a single federal rule would have prevented. New York City, for example, requires all workers on site to be vaccinated, while Florida has passed a law banning such requirements. And the government’s separate mandate for federal contractors has been put on hold and will likely go to the Supreme Court as well. Some companies, such as Boeing, have postponed mandates until their fate is certain, while others, such as Citigroup, have said they will go ahead anyway.
Companies that were now on the fence are unlikely to introduce mandates.
A spokesman for Macy’s, which began requesting vaccination status from its employees this month, said the retailer was “evaluating this recent development.” In a company poll by Willis Towers Watson in November, about a third of respondents said they plan to mandate vaccines only if the now-discarded government rule goes into effect.
Health experts said the ruling would deepen existing divisions.
Many white-collar workers can stay at home, while workers who have to do business in person have to go out. “This decision will provide an excuse for employers who care less about their employees to get back to business as usual,” said David Michaels, an epidemiologist and professor at George Washington University, former administrator of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. .
dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency room physician and the associate dean at Brown University’s School of Public Health, said that with about 30 percent of adults in the United States not being vaccinated, “I worry that those people won’t continue to let themselves be vaccinated.” vaccinate unless a lot of employers decide it is in their best interest to introduce it.”