Governor Doug Ducey today released a statement in response to the Supreme Court’s decision to stay the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Healthcare Emergency Temporary Standard, which would have placed overreaching mandates on employers.
“Today’s Supreme Court decision is a win for hardworking employees and will ensure they don’t needlessly lose their jobs due to the heavy hand of government. Employers in Arizona and throughout the nation have been operating their businesses since March of 2020 and throughout the pandemic. They were innovative and, without government direction, implemented precautions to take care of their workers. But, President Biden thought he knew better and instead used a federal agency to implement unlawful regulations that actually regulate employee conduct rather than workplaces.
“In Arizona, we’ve said from the start that the federal government’s attempt to force private employers to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for their employees is a dangerous display of federal overreach. The purpose of OSHA is to ensure the workplace is a safe and healthy environment for workers — not to put private businesses in a position where they must force their valued employees to give up their individual liberties.
“We continue to encourage all Arizonans to get the COVID-19 vaccine. It’s safe, effective and free, and has been granted full approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. However, it isn’t mandatory and an administrative agency should not be permitted to exceed their authority even in a public health emergency.”
In June 2021, Under President Biden’s direction, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published the Healthcare Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) that places additional requirements on health care organizations without allowing for public comment. The Industrial Commission of Arizona (ICA) sent a letter to OSHA stating Arizona laws already complied with the ETS and asked for confirmation of this assertion and waivers of certain portions of the ETS. Following two months of silence, OSHA issued a response to the ICA saying the agency was not in compliance and demanded immediate adoption of the full ETS. The ICA submitted a response stating it would pursue the rulemaking process, allowing for and encouraging public input of the mandate. Despite the ICA’s demonstrated intent to comply, the Department of Labor began the process of revoking the ICA’s OSHA authority. You can view Governor Ducey’s response to the threat here.
In November 2021, Under President Biden’s direction, OSHA announced plans to issue another ETS that required employers with 100 or more employees to mandate vaccinations or weekly testing for all employees with minimal exceptions. At least 27 states, including Arizona, filed lawsuits challenging the rule
One day after the employer mandate became effective, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted an emergency stay of the requirement citing constitutional issues raised. The court later issued a scathing criticism of the rule saying OSHA didn’t have the authority to issue such an expansive and forceful requirement. Less than two weeks after being issued, OSHA suspended their requirement.
In December, following consolidation of all of the challenges across the nation, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lifted the 5th Circuit’s stay of the requirement, meaning it was enforceable again. Dozens of petitioners filed applications with the U.S. Supreme Court to enjoin the 6th Circuit’s decision. On January 7, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments regarding the stay on the requirements.