Legal Challenges to Vaccine Mandates?


President Biden: …patient but our patience is wearing thin and the refusal has cost all of us.

Man: President Biden this evening trying to get Americans to get vaccinated. The president unveiling his six-point plan to stop the spread of COVID. At the top of the list, vaccine requirements impacting as many as 100 million Americans in an effort to boost vaccinations. The new rule mandates all employers with more than 100 workers get vaccinated or test weekly for the virus. So how will the president’s plan work legally? Here’s Hope Ford who went to an expert.

Hope: The way the Biden administration is trying to enforce the rule is through the Labor Department and OSHA. 11Alive legal expert Page Pate says there’s already a basis for the order.

Page: OSHA does have the ability to require businesses, especially large companies to put in place safety regulations, things that will protect the health and security of the people who work there.

Hope: Georgia-based businesses like Home Depot praised the requirement in a joint statement with other large companies. But Pate anticipates legal challenges.

Page: The employer may decide to file an action against OSHA, ask a judge to say that this particular requirement you’re imposing on us to make us then require our employees to get vaccines or get tested, you can’t do that.

Hope: What about employees? Could they sue their employer for firing them for refusing the vaccine or weekly testing?

Page: You can’t sue over that, especially not in Georgia. We’re an at-will employment state.

Hope: And what about governors? Governor Kemp tweeting he’ll take every legal option against the order. Pate thinks that’ll be difficult.

Page: He doesn’t have standing to file a lawsuit in court like the business would because OSHA’s not requiring the governor of Georgia’s staff to go get vaccinated. The requirement is placed on private businesses.

Hope: And Pate says the governor could ask the attorney general to file some declaratory judgment action in federal court but he doesn’t think there’s a legal basis for the governor to do so. Still, Pate says anyone can file a lawsuit. It’s just whether or not they’ll succeed.

Page: Everybody’s gonna be suing everybody else. And at the end of the day, some judge will have to sort through that.

Man: Attorney Pate added that he thinks big companies may see pushing back on the requirement and filing a lawsuit as a public relations nightmare. He thinks that medium-sized companies would be the ones more willing to change the order because this is all brand new. It’s possible a judge will see the order as a step too far.