On August 26, 2022, the Eleventh Circuit held that President Biden likely exceeded his authority by issuing the federal contractor vaccine mandate and affirmed the district court’s injunction prohibiting the federal government’s enforcement of the mandate against the plaintiffs. But the court also determined that the nationwide injunction — which applied to any contractor anywhere in the United States, plaintiff or not — was a “drastic form of relief.” Accordingly, the court vacated the district court’s injunction to the extent that it bars enforcement of the vaccine mandate against contractors who are not parties to the lawsuit.
On December 7, 2021, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia issued a preliminary injunction temporarily in Georgia v. Biden, halting the enforcement of Executive Order 14042 (EO 14042) nationwide. In doing so, the court joined the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, which issued a preliminary injunction in Kentucky v. Biden last week halting the enforcement of EO 14042 in Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee.
Seven states — Georgia, Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia — the governors of several of those states, and various state agencies filed the lawsuit in the Southern District of Georgia, challenging EO 14042 and requesting that the court issue a preliminary injunction. The Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. (ABC), a trade organization, moved to intervene in the action, and the court granted ABC’s request. In granting the preliminary injunction, the court determined that the plaintiffs met each of these required elements: (1) likelihood of success; (2) irreparable harm; (3) the balance of the harm; and (4) public interest.
The Safer Federal Workforce Task Force published guidance last week requiring certain federal contractors to implement COVID-19 safety measures. Most notably, the guidance directs federal contractors to ensure their employees are vaccinated and expands the directive to apply beyond employees directly or indirectly servicing federal contracts.
On August 26, 2021, the New York State Department of Health’s Public Health and Health Planning Council approved temporary emergency regulations implementing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for personnel in all entities licensed under Article 28 of the Public Health Law (including nursing homes, hospitals, and diagnostic and treatment centers), home care agencies licensed or certified under Article 36, hospice programs licensed under Article 40 and adult care facilities licensed under Article 7 of the Social Services Law. Notably, the final version of the approved emergency regulations removed the religious exemption that was present in the initial proposed version. As a result, health care workers were required to receive their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by September 27 — and personnel at other covered entities to receive their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by October 7 — unless a medical exemption is granted. On September 13, 2021, several doctors and nurses who allege that their sincere religious beliefs compel them to refuse COVID-19 vaccination, filed suit (Dr. A, et al. v. Kathy Hochul, et al.) claiming the New York State Department of Health’s failure to recognize religious exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate is unconstitutional. Plaintiffs sought a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction enjoining the Department of Health from enforcing the mandate.
The travel restrictions implemented by the U.S. government during the height of the pandemic may be easing. However, there is not a concrete list of rules for what will be required of travelers coming directly into the U.S. In this alert, we examine previous entry restrictions, how those may change going forward and which vaccines will be recognized by the U.S.
While public health leaders continue to wrestle with vaccine hesitancy, businesses are wrestling with employee challenges to COVID-19 vaccination mandates. This Saturday marked a win for private employers after a Texas District Court tossed a lawsuit brought by over 100 hospital employees claiming they were subjected unlawfully to a COVID-19 vaccination policy as a condition of continued employment. Although the plaintiffs’ counsel has said they plan to appeal the decision, the order provides helpful precedent for other organizations mulling such vaccination mandates.