Near the end of 2021, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) issued the Emergency Temporary Standard (the ETS), which required employers with 100 or more employees to put in place a mandatory vaccination policy or require weekly COVID-19 testing and mask wearing by unvaccinated or partially vaccinated employees. On November 5, 2021, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit stayed enforcement and application of the vaccine mandate; this stay was dissolved by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals on December 17, 2021. See the discussion of these rulings here and here. Thereafter, the United States Supreme Court agreed to review the issue.

Continue Reading The Supreme Court Stays OSHA Rule Requiring Vaccination or Testing for Most Private Employers

As the COVID-19 landscape evolves and the Omicron variant pervades, state and local governments and health authorities have modified their recommendations, guidance, and regulations in an effort to manage the pandemic.

For example, on December 30, 2021, following the CDC’s December 27, 2021, changes to its quarantine and isolation recommendations, the California Department of Public

The CDC recently updated its guidelines on, among other things, quarantine and isolation periods and recommendations regarding booster shots. Below is a high-level summary of some of these changes.

At the end of December 2021, the CDC updated its guidance regarding quarantine and isolation. A media statement from the CDC regarding its updates can be found here. Some of the biggest changes from the December recommendations involved the following:

  • Reducing isolation for those with COVID-19 to five days followed by five days of wearing a mask when around others.
  • Revising quarantine periods, including:
    • For unvaccinated individuals, individuals who completed the primary series of Pfizer or Moderna over five months ago and are not boosted, or individuals who completed J&J over two months ago and are not boosted, quarantine five days followed by “strict mask use” for five days.
    • If quarantine is “not feasible,” wear a “well-fitting mask at all times when around others for 10 days after exposure.”
    • Individuals who have received booster shots do not need to quarantine but should wear a mask for 10 days after exposure.


Continue Reading CDC Revises Guidance on Quarantine, Isolation, and Booster Shots

In an updated guidance released on December 27, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reduced the recommended isolation and quarantine period for the general population. The term “isolation” refers to the recommended behavior after a confirmed COVID-19 infection, while “quarantine” is the term that applies to the period following a person’s exposure to the virus or close contact with someone who has COVID-19. According to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the Omicron variant is spreading quickly, and the “CDC’s updated recommendations for isolation and quarantine balance what we know about the spread of the virus and the protection provided by vaccination and booster doses.”
Continue Reading CDC Shortens the Recommended Isolation and Quarantine Period

On December 17, 2021, the Sixth Circuit granted the Biden Administration’s motion to Dissolve the Stay of the OSHA Vaccine ETS, which was issued by the Fifth Circuit on November 5, 2021.  See link to full opinion. Judge Stranch (an Obama appointee) authored the opinion, which Judge Gibbons (a Bush appointee) joined. Judge Larsen

On November 16, 2021, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation randomly assigned the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit to hear legal challenges to the vaccine emergency temporary standard (ETS) issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The ETS, affecting employers with 100 or more employees, is summarized here.

On November 12, 2021, a panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a 22-page order reaffirming the initial stay of a vaccine emergency temporary standard (ETS) issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The ETS, affecting employers with 100 or more employees, is summarized here. The three-judge panel determined that OSHA did not have legal authority to issue the ETS. Among other concerns stated in the decision, the panel determined that OSHA’s mandate did not meet the high bar to issue an emergency standard because it had not sufficiently established a grave danger. Also, the panel found that the ETS’s vaccine or testing requirements were overbroad (by setting forth a standard requirement for workplaces regardless of the specific hazards present in individual workplaces) and underinclusive (by exempting many vulnerable workers in workplaces with fewer than 100 employees). Based on these and other legal infirmities, the panel held that the challenges to the ETS were likely to succeed on the merits, which supported the request for a stay. The panel also stated that the ETS would remain stayed pending adequate judicial review of the request for a permanent injunction and ordered OSHA to take no steps to implement or enforce the ETS until further court order.
Continue Reading Fifth Circuit Stays OSHA’s New Emergency Temporary Standard

On November 6, 2021, in a per curiam opinion, a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal panel temporarily enjoined the new Occupational Health and Safety Administration’s vaccine Emergency Temporary  Standard (“ETS”) for employers with 100 or more employees.  A copy of the opinion is available here.  Our prior blog post on the ETS is available

The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued its long-awaited emergency temporary standard requiring all employers with a total of 100 or more employees at any time to mandate vaccination and/or weekly COVID-19 testing (the “vaccination/testing ETS”). As expected, the text of the vaccination/testing ETS requires that employees either become fully vaccinated or produce a negative test result at least every seven days before going in to work. In addition, the vaccination/testing ETS requires masks or other face coverings for unvaccinated employees working indoors. The new measure also requires employers to provide up to four hours of paid leave, including travel time, to employees to get vaccinated and recover from any ill effects of the vaccine. If employees experience side effects from vaccination, employers must also provide reasonable time and paid sick leave for recovery from each dose. However, under the federal mandate, employers are not required to shoulder the costs of weekly testing of employees or of providing face coverings for employees.
Continue Reading OSHA’s COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing ETS: What Employers Must Know

Since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved use of three COVID-19 vaccines under emergency use authorizations in April 2021, many public and private employers have announced and/or implemented mandatory vaccination policies. In addition, on September 9, 2021, President Biden signed an executive order requiring that certain federal contractors mandate vaccinations for their workers and directed OSHA to implement a rule that would require employers with 100 or more employees to mandate vaccination and/or COVID-19 testing. For more information, see our previous blog post.

Employers implementing mandatory vaccination policies (either by the company’s decision or pursuant to government requirements) have been left with questions on how to properly address employee requests for accommodations to such policies due to religious beliefs, practices, and observances.
Continue Reading EEOC Updates COVID-19 Technical Guidance to Address Religious Objections to COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates