Business groups sue to block Biden vaccine-or-test mandate

Business groups sue to block Biden vaccine-or-test mandate
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Trade associations representing retailers, truckers and distributors filed a lawsuit against the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Tuesday to block its vaccine-or-test mandate for private employers.

The groups said that the rule, which will require businesses with 100 or more employees to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations or weekly testing by Jan. 4, will “inflict irreparable harm” on their member companies. 

“This is not a case about the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, which are a marvel of modern medicine. … This is a case about American businesses that do not want to face the immediate irreparable harm of losing employees, incurring substantial and unrecoverable compliance costs, and worsening already fragile supply chains and labor markets,” the groups wrote in a court filing

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National Retail Federation President Matthew Shay said in a statement Tuesday night that the December deadline to obtain proof of employee vaccination status and the January deadline to begin testing unvaccinated employees “are both unworkable and virtually impossible.”

“We have consistently and repeatedly communicated our concerns about the practical challenges of meeting those arbitrary targets,” he said. “However, it appears that our only remaining course of action is to petition for judicial relief.”

Business groups lobbied OSHA to make the rule more business friendly, but retailers still opposed the final rule over its short implementation timeline, which they said will disrupt the holiday shopping season by worsening worker shortages.

The American Trucking Associations, National Association of Convenience Stores, National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors and National Federation of Independent Business also joined the lawsuit, among other groups.

Many of the high-profile lawsuits up until this point had come from GOP-led states and conservative groups. Following a challenge from Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Utah and South Carolina, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily blocked the OSHA rule over the weekend. 

The Justice Department urged the panel to reverse its decision Monday and argued that halting the rule “would likely cost dozens or even hundreds of lives per day.”

“With the reopening of workplaces and the emergence of the highly transmissible Delta variant, the threat to workers is ongoing and overwhelming,” the Justice Department told the court.