COVID-19 Update January 26, 2022

On January 13, 2022, the Supreme Court blocked the private employer vaccine emergency temporary standard (ETS). Yesterday, OSHA posted the notice of withdrawal on its website. We have listed the key takeaways for you below:

Tip: click each hyperlink to read more detailed information regarding each takeaway

1. The Supreme Court blocked the private employer mandate:
The Supreme Court ruling blocking the OSHA ETS has led to uncertainty for many employers. Employers are now questioning how to move forward and reevaluating COVID-19 protocols. The Starbucks Corporation has publicly announced they will not be moving forward with any more testing or vaccination requirements.

2. Where are we with healthcare facilities certified by CMS:
On January 14, 2022, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued guidance on enforcement of the vaccination mandate for healthcare providers certified by Medicare or Medicaid.

Enforcement of the mandate is delayed until Sunday, February 13, 2022, for states whose cases were argued before the Supreme Court. This includes Louisiana.

Facilities that fall under these regulations must have clear policies and procedures in place to ensure the COVID-19 vaccination status of their employees. All employees need to have received the 1st dose of a vaccine, made an exemption request, been granted an exemption, or identified a shaving a CDC-recommended temporary delay. Covered facilities must ensure all employees are fully vaccinated by March 15, 2022, unless they have been granted an exemption or CDC-recommended delay.

3. LA Supreme Court says private employers may mandate employee vaccinations:
In Hayes v. University Health Shreveport, the Louisiana Supreme Court upheld a private employer’s COVID vaccine mandate. The court ruled that a private employer is entitled to set whatever conditions and terms of employment they see fit, using the employment-at-will doctrine. These terms and conditions include a COVID vaccine mandate, provided that these terms and conditions do not interfere with federal and state laws.

Several employees filed the lawsuit to challenge a mandatory COVID vaccination policy, which called for employees to be fully vaccinated by October, 29, 2021. This ruling could be useful to private employers seeking to enforce vaccination requirements in at-will employment states.

4. Continuing to work during a global pandemic:
Since a large-scale transition to remote work in 2020, businesses were forced to navigate new expectations. It is important to reevaluate policies in today’s current context. A study by TalentLMS and Purple Campaign found that “30 percent of employees said they’d experienced unwelcome behavior via text messages, e-mail, video calls, and other online platforms since the beginning of the pandemic.” With the results of this study, we encourage you to think about your harassment and sexual harassment practices in virtual workplaces and adjust them.

Have a great week!

Teresa & Dave

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