The Biden administration and the Department of Labor on Thursday announced a Jan. 4 deadline for private companies with 100 or more workers to comply with a vaccine mandate, impacting several thousand Minnesota companies under an Emergency Temporary Standard.
According to a spokesperson for Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), 4,796 companies across the state meet this criterion.
Starting Jan. 4, companies could face thousands of dollars in fines from OSHA if they fail to comply with the emergency order, which forces workers to either get vaccinated or face weekly testing and masking requirements. The Biden administration is also separately requiring vaccinations for health care workers in Medicare and Medicaid facilities, as well as federal contractors.
David Larson, a labor law expert and professor at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, said in the case of compelling private employers to require vaccines, the Biden administration is relying on the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 that obligates employers to provide a safe workplace.
“Further into the act, there’s also a ‘grave danger’ clause, that says that when workers are exposed to ‘grave dangers,’ we can act immediately, to create different kinds of regulations to protect workers. So, that’s where that authority is coming from,” Larson said. “The reason why we’re having this mandate is because this pandemic is not going away.”
Attorneys general in 11 states filed suit Friday against the mandate. The lawsuit filed in the St. Louis-based 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals argues that the authority to compel vaccinations rests with the states, not the federal government.
“This mandate is unconstitutional, unlawful, and unwise,” said the court filing by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, one of several Republicans vying for the state’s open U.S. Senate seat next year.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: WASHINGTON POST
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