WASHINGTON – The Biden government argued Monday that the federal government had all the powers necessary to require large employers to vaccinate their workers against the Covid-19 virus – or to wear masks on those who refuse the shots and undergo weekly testing.
In a 28-page motion to the United States Appeals Court for the Fifth District that temporarily blocked the mandate last week with a statewide residency, the Justice Department argued that the rule to protect workers from the pandemic was necessary and well-founded into law.
The mandate’s entry into force “would likely cost tens or even hundreds of lives a day, in addition to large numbers of hospitalizations, other serious health implications and enormous costs,” the Justice Department said in its motion. “This is a confluence of damage of the highest order.”
The labor protection agency, which is part of the Ministry of Labor, issued the standard last week. The rule would force companies with at least 100 employees to require unvaccinated employees to wear masks indoors starting December 5. Employees who remain unvaccinated by Jan. 4 would have to undergo weekly tests on the job.
A coalition of plaintiffs – including several employers and Republican-controlled states – have challenged the mandate in court. Her lawsuit argued that the mandate is an unlawful overrun of the powers that Congress lawfully delegated to OSHA.
The agency, argued several of the plaintiffs in a 20-page file on November 7, is an occupational safety organization with limited powers to protect workers from hazardous workplace substances such as asbestos – “not a public health agency with far-reaching powers”. communicable diseases through regulation. “
They also argued that raising workplace safety concerns was just a “pretext” for the real agenda of the Biden administration – pressuring more Americans to get vaccinated.
Last week, a three-person jury from the Fifth Ward temporarily blocked the new standard, saying in a concise, unsigned statement that the challengers “gave reason to believe that the mandate had serious legal and constitutional problems.”
The committee of the fifth circle will now decide whether to revoke its decision to block the mandate or make it permanent. But it is unlikely to have the final say.
Several other legal challengers to the mandate are in various appeals court circles, and the many pending appeals are expected to be rounded up before a randomly assigned appeals court later this month. The subject is very likely to end up in the Supreme Court.
Part of the Justice Department’s file pointed to the random selection of an appeals court to consolidate cases from across the country – and the fact that the mandate has not yet run – as a reason for the Fifth District to hold back. However, other parts of the file served as a preview of the administration’s broader arguments.
In the filing, it was argued that OSHA had duly determined that potential exposure to the virus posed a “serious hazard” to workers, in line with the standard of Congress established by law. It also rejected the challengers’ claim that steps to reduce the risk of infection from disease are outside of the types of workplace hazards that the agency can regulate.
The Justice Department wrote that “the text of the law is clear and limited to addressing serious hazards for workers in the workplace. Like many other areas of regulation, workplace safety regulations can affect many Americans and touch topics that some people disagree on. But that does not automatically compel a circumscribed interpretation of a deliberately broad congress scholarship. “
Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House deputy press secretary, said Monday that it was routine for administrative policy to face legal challenges and urged employers not to wait for the litigation to settle before being told by their workers Request a vaccination – as some already have – or start having weekly tests.
Finding that more than 750,000 Americans have died from Covid-19, with about 1,300 new deaths in the United States every day, she argued that the mandate is to protect workers from the risk of contracting the coronavirus.
“This is an authority that we believe has the Department of Labor – we are very confident,” she said, adding, “This is about keeping people safe in the workplace and it is critical and it is is important to do this. “
The White House announced in September that the federal government would enact and sponsor a number of vaccination mandates, including those for federal employees, employees of federal contractors, and recipients of federal funds.
“We were patient,” Biden said at the time, referring to about 80 million Americans who have refused to get vaccinated, increasing the risk that the coronavirus will find new hosts to spread further. “But our patience is failing. And your refusal has cost us all. “
The litigation focuses on the portion of Mr Biden’s mandate plan that applies to companies that employ more than 100 people. It is based on an emergency provision of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, which authorizes the federal government to regulate workplaces to protect worker safety.
At the direction of Mr. Biden, OSHA has developed a “temporary emergency standard” based on the assertion that workers at work are “at great risk” from the virus and that requiring vaccinations or frequent testing is a necessary and viable option for employers is to reduce the risk of serious illness, hospitalization or death.
The rule makes an exception for employees who do not have close contact with other people at work, e.g. work at home or exclusively outdoors.
The agency released the standard on November 4, and plaintiffs filed the lawsuit the next day.
If the courts ultimately allowed the rule to go into effect, OSHA would have the power to collect reports of violations and send inspectors to investigate workplaces of crimes.
In June, OSHA used the same authority to impose an emergency regulation for healthcare employers. They obliged them to provide the workers with protective equipment such as masks and to ensure adequate ventilation and clearance. But the agency has not yet used this power to impose a comprehensive vaccination mandate on all major employers.