A U.S. court of appeals ruling that will allow the federal government to impose a vaccine mandate on businesses could hurt the supply chain and amplify the labor shortage in Virginia and nationwide, according to a business group fighting against the rule.
An appeals court ruled Friday the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is allowed to enforce its vaccine mandate. The rule requires any business with 100 or more workers force every employee to receive a COVID-19 vaccine or be subject to a test every week. The National Federation of Independent Business and several other groups have filed lawsuits against the rule and plan to take the fight to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“This [ruling] is going to be a real problem… Every single one of [our members] knows they’re going to lose employees,” Karen Harned, the executive director of NFIB’s Small Business Legal Center told The Center Square. The NFIB is the largest small business association in the country.
Virginia and the nation have faced rising prices for many goods and services and a lot of businesses in the commonwealth have reported difficulties in finding qualified workers and getting necessary supplies to operate their businesses fully. Many have had to increase prices and some have been forced to cut hours of operation amid these problems.
Harned said the court ruling to allow the implementation of the mandate is “pouring gasoline on the fire.” The affected businesses would have to fire workers who refuse to get the vaccine or submit to testing or the businesses would face massive fines themselves. Depending on the infraction, a business could face more than $13,000 in fines for a single violation.
The NFIB is arguing the rule is outside of OSHA’s authority. Because COVID-19 is a public health issue, rather than a specific workplace issue, Harned argued that OSHA cannot legally impose mandates for vaccination. She said OSHA has failed to prove that COVID-19 incidents are more likely to occur in a workplace than another location. Rather, with all of the mitigation strategies among businesses, Harned argued that a person is probably less likely to contract the virus at work than at another location.
OSHA has argued it can legally impose the mandate under its authority to regulate grave dangers in the workplace.
Businesses would need to require face masks for unvaccinated workers beginning Jan. 10 and require that all workers either get vaccinated or submit to weekly testing by Feb. 9. NFIB hopes the Supreme Court will weigh in before the mandate goes into effect.
This article was originally posted on Vaccine mandate ruling could hurt supply chain, amplify labor shortage in Virginia