On November 10, 2023, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed into law Senate Bill 7, which prohibits private employers in Texas from imposing vaccine mandates that require employees and/or contractors to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine. The law, which takes effect on February 7, 2024, is similar, though not identical to Florida laws passed in 2021, and amended in 2023, also limiting employers from requiring vaccination against COVID-19, as a condition of employment.
Texas’ Ban on Employer-Mandated Vaccines
Texas’ new law will prohibit employers from adopting or enforcing a ...
On September 20, 2022, Mayor Eric Adams announced that New York City’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for private employers is ending. The City’s mandate for municipal employees, however, will remain in effect.
The New York HERO Act website was quietly updated on the afternoon of March 18, 2022 to confirm that the designation of COVID-19 as an airborne infectious disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health has ended. This means the “activation” of HERO Act safety plans is over.
On March 17, 2022, the designation of COVID-19 as an airborne infectious disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health under the HERO Act ended. Private sector employers are no longer required to implement their workforce safety plans.
While the fate of two COVID-19 vaccination rules by federal agencies were decided in January by the Supreme Court of the United States, millions of employees working for the federal government, whether directly or as a contractor, have been waiting for clarity in the wake of court orders halting Presidential efforts to promote vaccination. Here is a brief update on the status of litigation challenging the extent of the President’s authority to command the Executive Branch.
On the evening of Wednesday, December 22, 2021, the Supreme Court of the United States announced that it will hold a special session on January 7, 2022, to hear oral argument in cases concerning whether two Biden administration vaccine mandates should be stayed. One is an interim final rule promulgated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”); the other is an Emergency Temporary Standard (“ETS”) issued by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”). The CMS interim final rule, presently stayed in 24 states, would require COVID-19 vaccination for staff employed at Medicare and Medicaid certified providers and suppliers. The OSHA ETS, which requires businesses with 100 or more employees to ensure that workers are vaccinated against the coronavirus or otherwise to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing, was allowed to take effect when a divided panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, to which the consolidated challenges had been assigned by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, issued a ruling on December 17, 2021, lifting a stay that had been previously entered by the Fifth Circuit. Multiple private sector litigants and states immediately challenged the decision.
On Monday, December 20, District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a “situational update,” declaring a state of emergency due to the “Winter 2022 Surge” in COVID-19 cases driven by the Delta and Omicron variants. The District will combat the current rise in COVID-19 cases with a six-pronged approach outlined in an action plan (the “Plan”) published by the Mayor’s Office and implemented under Mayor’s Order 2021-147 (the “Order”). The Plan includes expanding free testing programs, a new indoor mask mandate, and a vaccine mandate for city employees and contractors.
The District has been operating a program called “Test Yourself DC,” which provides free PCR testing kits for use at home. On December 20, 2021, nine new pick-up/drop-off sites were added to the program, making a total of 36 locations available. The Test Yourself locations are in addition to the eight public testing sites staffed by health professionals administering free PCR COVID-19 tests. Further, the program will be expanded to include “Test Yourself Express,” which will offer free at-home rapid antigen COVID-19 testing kits at eight DC public libraries. District residents who provide proof of residency will be permitted to get two free rapid tests per day and must report their results via an online portal.
As featured in #WorkforceWednesday: This week, we look at the status of the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccine rules for employers and the COVID-19 vaccine mandates in New York State and City.
As we previously reported, President Biden issued Executive Order 14042 (the Order), which mandated that employees of contractors and subcontractors performing work on federal contracts be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by January 18, 2022. Challengers from seven states—Georgia, Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia (the Plaintiff States)—and various state agencies, filed suit against President Biden and his Administration, seeking injunctive relief against enforcement of the Order. On December 7, 2021, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia granted the motion and issued a nationwide preliminary injunction against the enforcement of the vaccine mandate.
The Court’s Decision
On Monday, October 11, 2021, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued Executive Order GA-40 (the “Order”) prohibiting vaccine mandates by any entity. The Order, which was effective upon issuance, states: “No entity in Texas can compel receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine by any individual, including an employee or a consumer, who objects to such vaccination for any reason of personal conscience, based on a religious belief, or for medical reasons, including prior recovery from COVID-19.” It provides for a maximum fine of up to $1,000 per violation for any failure to comply with the order ...
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