Court Temporarily Blocks Federal Contractor Vaccine Mandate
A federal judge in Georgia temporarily blocked the Biden administration from enforcing its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal contractors Dec. 7.
U.S. District Court Judge Stan Baker issued the order, writing the president likely exceeded his authority with a Sept. 9 executive order requiring that employees of federal contractors and subcontractors are fully vaccinated.
Baker ordered the federal government to halt enforcement of the mandate “in all covered contracts in any state or territory of the United States of America.”
“In its practical application, it operates as a regulation of public health,” Baker wrote.
“It will also have a major impact on the economy at large, as it limits contractors’ and members of the workforce’s ability to perform work on federal contracts.
“Accordingly, it appears to have vast economic and political significance.”
The ruling follows a lawsuit filed by the Associated Builders and Contractors, a nationwide trade group, along with seven states, claiming President Biden exceeded authorization from Congress.
A federal judge in Kentucky also issued a preliminary injunction against the mandate last week, but it only applied to contractors in Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee.
The vaccine mandate covers millions of workers across the country, including those employed at hundreds of Connecticut firms.
Biden issued the executive order Sept. 9, setting Dec. 8 as the deadline, although that was later pushed to Jan. 18.
It came in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Emergency Temporary Standard that private sector firms with 100 or more employees must implement vaccine mandates or weekly testing.
Judges previously issued a stay on the ETS, along with another administration directive that applied to healthcare workers across the country.
The guidelines for federal contractors however, went a step further by providing no option for weekly testing. Medical and religious exemptions were allowed.
A White House spokesperson said the U.S. Department of Justice will continue to defend the mandate.
Many federal contractors have moved to meet the mandate’s requirements ahead of the administration’s January deadline.
Lockheed Martin CEO Jim Taiclet told CNBC Dec. 3 that more than 95% of the company’s 115,000 employees were now vaccinated against COVID-19.
“We are well on our way to being able to maintain our operations,” he said.
An August CBIA survey of Connecticut businesses found 52% of companies supported government vaccine mandates, with 11% unsure.
Two-thirds of the companies that responded to the CBIA survey reported vaccination rates of 75% or higher.
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