Yesterday, Dec. 7, 2021, a federal judge in Georgia issued a nationwide injunction preventing the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all federal contractors from going into effect. In his decision, U.S. District Judge R. Stan Baker ruled that the government exceeded its lawful authority, even if “in pursuit of desirable ends.” The injunction follows on the heels of a similar suit filed by the states of Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee in which a Kentucky federal judge issued a limited injunction preventing the federal contractor mandate from going into effect in those states.
The mandate, issued by Executive Order, applied to certain federal contractors and subcontractors. If covered, such federal contractors and subcontractors were required to implement mandatory vaccination policies that would require all covered employees to receive their final vaccination dose (the second dose of Pfizer or Moderna or single dose of John & Johnson) by Jan. 4, 2022, in order to meet the Jan. 18, 2022, compliance deadline.
As it stands, the January deadlines will not be enforced under the current injunction. If the injunction remains as we get closer to Jan. 4, 2022, employers considered to be a federal contractor or subcontractor might reasonably consider delaying implementation of a vaccination policy. However, businesses should prepare to be flexible as the legal landscape can change quickly.
For more information on this topic, or to learn how Godfrey & Kahn can help, contact a member of our Labor, Employment & Immigration Law Practice Group.