Supreme Court blocks vaccine mandate for large employers, allows health care mandate to stay

Yahoo Finance legal correspondent Alexis Keenan joins the Live show to discuss the Supreme Court blocking President Biden’s vaccine mandate for large employers.

Video Transcript


JULIE HYMAN: Yesterday, the Biden administration's mandate that big businesses get their employees vaccinated was dealt a blow by the Supreme Court. Although, the health care industry has a mandate that stays in place under this ruling. Our Alexis Keenan has been tracking all of this for us. So Alexis, interesting ruling here, and this sort of split ruling, if you will, given the different industries.

ALEXIS KEENAN: Yeah, this is really an apples and oranges result here. And some companies sticking to their own employee vaccination requirements already. Others relieved that they don't have to follow this guidance, and worrying that they would lose too much staff here, if they did have to implement something like this.

So just to recap, the Supreme Court blocking the Biden administration's large employer mandate. That was supposed to apply to 84 million US workers. That would have imposed fines on private companies that have a hundred or more employees, unless their employees were either fully vaccinated or tested weekly for the virus and remained masked at work.

On the other hand, the Supreme Court went ahead and allowed the Biden administration's health care mandate that applies to 10.4 million US workers. And that one imposes fines on health care facilities that receive federal funds unless all of their employees are vaccinated. That one does have a exemption available for religious and medical reasons, if employees do not choose to get vaccinated under those circumstances.

So what should these private employers now do is the question in a majority of jurisdictions. This ruling doesn't prevent employers from adopting their own vaccination requirements. Though, in some states and localities, laws say otherwise. The National Academy for State Health Policy is tracking some of this. And you can see it there on your screen.

You have Montana and Tennessee as these states that have banned private employers from requiring vaccination. And then there-- you have some other states, many more others, requiring those exemptions, allowing for religious and also medical exemptions.

So I've been talking to employment and labor law experts in the heels of this decision here. And they tell me that, look, OSHA's general rules still obligate employers to provide a safe workplace. So companies should be watching for not just existing federal, state, and local laws now all combined, but also for any new legal guidance that is coming out of this decision and changes that are afoot.

So the White House here could revise this large employer mandate, and they could try to bring it in line with what the Supreme Court is saying it might accept, which is a much more narrowly tailored version of this rule. So we're waiting to see how companies are going to react to this change. You have "The Wall Street Journal" saying that look at airlines, Tyson, Disney, Starbucks, Raytheon, just to name a few, all already having their own vaccination mandates.

You also had JP Morgan saying that in-office employees would be fired by the end of today if they don't receive the vaccination. Also reporting 99% compliance there. So a handful of others we're watching, looking to see what these big employers are going to do on the heels of this very controversial sometimes and important decision.

JULIE HYMAN: Yeah, will be very interesting to see how it all plays out. Thanks so much, Alexis. Appreciate it.

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