Occupational Safety and Health

Supreme Court Blocks Enforcement of OSHA’s Vax-or-Test Rule; What Now?

January 14, 2022

By Michael D. Billok and Nihla F. Sikkander

The wait is over. On Jan.13, 2022, the United States Supreme Court issued a decision to stay the Occupational Health and Safety Administration’s (OSHA) vaccination or test emergency temporary standard (ETS), effectively blocking the enforcement of the ETS for the foreseeable future.

Read More >> Supreme Court Blocks Enforcement of OSHA’s Vax-or-Test Rule; What Now?

Status Update on OSHA’s Vax or Test Mandate: Supreme Court’s Decision is Pending; First Compliance Date is Here; OSHA Clarifies Additional Questions on the Mandate

January 11, 2022

It seems that change is the only constant when it comes to OSHA’s Vax or Test Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). Here is the current status:

The Supreme Court’s Decision is Pending

On Friday, Jan. 7, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments regarding the ETS at a special session of the Court.1 Challengers to the ETS requested that the Court issue a stay to stop the ETS before Jan. 10, stating that the mandate was overly broad and was a question that should be left to Congress or to be decided at the state-specific level. Though one cannot predict how the Court will rule, based on their line of questioning, a majority of the justices appeared to be skeptical of the ETS with Justice Alito quoting the late Justice Scalia when he described OSHA’s interpretation as “squeezing an elephant into a mousehole.” At the hearing, Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh focused on the Major Questions Doctrine.2 The justices also focused on whether OSHA had the authority to mandate a vaccine that impacts not only the workplace, but also employees’ lives outside the workplace, and is, to quote Chief Justice Roberts, an “out-in-the-world issue.” Additionally, the justices floated the idea of issuing a brief administrative stay until they could make a decision. Solicitor General Prelogar, appearing for OSHA, obviously disagreed and said that the Jan. 10 deadline did not pose a major burden on businesses, except for imposing mask requirements. The Court has announced that it will be issuing “one or more opinions” on Jan. 13. It is unclear if one of these opinions will be with respect to the ETS. We are awaiting the Court’s decision and will keep you informed.

Read More >> Status Update on OSHA’s Vax or Test Mandate: Supreme Court’s Decision is Pending; First Compliance Date is Here; OSHA Clarifies Additional Questions on the Mandate

Supreme Court to Expedite Hearing on OSHA’s Vax or Test Mandate; Prepare for OSHA’s January 10 Deadline Now

December 23, 2021

By Michael D. Billok and Nihla F. Sikkander

It seems that new details about the status of OSHA’s Vax or Test Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) are emerging daily! On Dec. 22, 2021, the United States Supreme Court announced that it will expedite hearing arguments regarding the ETS at a special session of the Court on Jan. 7, 2022.1  This announcement comes on the heels of a rapid succession of litigation and court orders. In early November 2021, the Fifth Circuit had temporarily stayed implementation of the ETS, which was later lifted by the Sixth Circuit on Dec. 17. Almost immediately, plaintiffs challenging the ETS filed several requests with the Court asking the justices to order an emergency stay of the rule. Please review Bond’s Dec. 20, 2021 blog post for additional details.

Read More >> Supreme Court to Expedite Hearing on OSHA’s Vax or Test Mandate; Prepare for OSHA’s January 10 Deadline Now

Is OSHA’s Vax Or Test Mandate Here To Stay?

December 20, 2021

By Michael D. Billok and Nihla F. Sikkander

On Friday, December 17, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit lifted the Fifth Circuit’s stay order on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) COVID-19 Vaccination or Test and Mask Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). The ETS applies to employers with 100 or more workers and impacts over 80 million workers in the United States. Under the rule as issued, employers have one of two choices. The first option is to mandate and verify that all of their employees are vaccinated against COVID-19. Employers not enacting the first option would be required to test unvaccinated employees weekly for COVID-19 and ensure these employees wear masks in the workplace. OSHA has announced it will begin issuing citations for noncompliance with the ETS’ administrative requirements after January 10, 2022, and the ETS’ testing requirements after February 9, 2022

Read More >> Is OSHA’s Vax Or Test Mandate Here To Stay?

OSHA's Vax or Test Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) is Here

November 4, 2021

By Thomas G. Eron and Nihla F. Sikkander

On Nov. 4, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released an emergency temporary standard (ETS) requiring all employers with 100 or more employees, with a few exceptions, to mandate vaccination or test employees weekly for COVID-19. OSHA justified the ETS by citing a “grave danger” posed by the coronavirus. Covered employers are required to develop, implement and enforce either a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy or a policy requiring employees to choose to get vaccinated or to undergo regular testing and wear a face covering at work. In addition, the ETS requires employers to provide paid time off for workers to get vaccinated and paid sick leave for employees to recover from any side effects resulting from vaccination.

Read More >> OSHA's Vax or Test Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) is Here

Employers Activate Your HERO Act Plans! NY Commissioner of Health Issues NY HERO Act Designation for COVID-19

September 7, 2021

By Stephanie H. Fedorka

On Sept. 6, 2021, Gov. Kathy Hochul directed the NYS Commissioner of Health to designate COVID-19 as a highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health. The designation is official and available on the NYS Department of Health (NYSDOH) website.

Read More >> Employers Activate Your HERO Act Plans! NY Commissioner of Health Issues NY HERO Act Designation for COVID-19

Must an Employer Offer a Reasonable Accommodation if a Federal Safety Regulation Prohibits Such Accommodation? 

July 7, 2021

By Richard S. Finkel

In a decision of interest to New York State employers subject to federal safety regulations, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals recently answered that question in the negative. In Bey v. City of New York1, the Court concluded that where a federal safety regulation expressly prohibits a requested medical accommodation, that regulation trumps the requirements imposed by the Americans with Disabilities Act (the ADA) and Title VII and shields the employer from liability under those statutes. 

Read More >> Must an Employer Offer a Reasonable Accommodation if a Federal Safety Regulation Prohibits Such Accommodation? 

Governor Cuomo Signs HERO Act Into Law

May 6, 2021

By Stephanie H. Fedorka

On May 5, 2021, Governor Cuomo officially signed the New York Health and Essential Rights Act (HERO Act) into law. The HERO Act effectively imposes significant obligations on covered employers to provide and maintain a safe workplace in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and for future airborne infectious disease outbreaks. As previously reported, the HERO Act amended the New York Labor Law by adding two new sections: (1) Section 218-b, which governs development and adoption of an airborne infectious disease prevention policy; and (2) Section 27-D, that requires employers to permit the creation of workplace safety committees. Both sections only apply to private sector employers. However, Section 27-D specifically only applies to private employers with at least 10 employees. 

Read More >> Governor Cuomo Signs HERO Act Into Law

New York State Legislature Passes HERO Act – Significant Workplace Health and Safety Obligations for Employers are on the Horizon

April 30, 2021

By Stephanie H. Fedorka

On April 20, 2021, the New York Legislature passed the “New York Health and Essential Rights Act” or “HERO Act.” To date, the bill has not been signed by the Governor, but we expect it to be executed in the near future. The bill, as written, would impose significant obligations on employers, regardless of size, in an effort to prevent exposure to airborne infectious diseases. 

Read More >> New York State Legislature Passes HERO Act – Significant Workplace Health and Safety Obligations for Employers are on the Horizon

New York Officially Lifts Travel Quarantine Requirement for Domestic Travelers

April 1, 2021

By Adam P. Mastroleo

On April 1, 2021 the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) officially updated its Interim Guidance for Quarantine Restrictions on Travelers Arriving in New York State to remove the quarantine requirement for domestic travelers arriving in New York State from other U.S. States or territories. This updated guidance document has been anticipated since Governor Cuomo announced on March 11, 2021, that the domestic traveler quarantine requirement would be lifted on April 1. 

Read More >> New York Officially Lifts Travel Quarantine Requirement for Domestic Travelers

New York Department of Labor Issues Guidance on Paid Leave for COVID-19 Vaccinations 

March 30, 2021

By Mary E. Moran

On March 12, 2021, Governor Cuomo signed a new law that grants paid leave to employees to get vaccinated for COVID-19. Under the statute, employees may take up to four hours of paid time off per vaccine injection. A link to our prior post discussing the statute is available here

Read More >> New York Department of Labor Issues Guidance on Paid Leave for COVID-19 Vaccinations 

The COVID-19 Pandemic: Recommendations for Employers

March 16, 2020

By Monica C. Barrett and Subhash Viswanathan

The COVID-19 pandemic has already caused severe disruption to many businesses across the country. Employers will be required to continue to monitor developments and adjust to changing circumstances in the coming weeks and possibly months. We provide the following recommendations for employers in dealing with the many employment-related issues that will inevitably arise.

Read More >> The COVID-19 Pandemic: Recommendations for Employers