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Federal Contractor Vaccine Mandate Blocked by Georgia Judge

Federal Contractor Vaccine Mandate Blocked by Georgia Judge
U.S. District Court Judge R. Stan Baker, in his order, said that the president probably exceeded his authority to issue the mandate. 

The Biden administration's vaccine mandate for federal contractors was blocked by a federal judge in Georgia, according to multiple reports.

U.S. District Court Judge R. Stan Baker in his order said that while there is strong interest is in combating the spread of COVID-19, the president likely exceeded his authority in issuing the mandate. 

The Biden administration mandate applies to roughly a quarter of the U.S. workforce and affects companies that do business with the federal government, according to Bloomberg Law.

Regarding the order, Baker wrote, ". . .[I]n its practical application (requiring a significant number of individuals across the country working in a broad range of positions and in numerous different industries to be vaccinated or face a serious risk of losing their job), it operates as a regulation of public health.

"It will also have a major impact on the economy at large, as it limits contractors’ and members of the workforce’s ability to perform work on federal contracts. Accordingly, it appears to have vast economic and political significance."

Blocking the policy would "do nothing more than maintain the status quo; entities will still be free to encourage their employees to get vaccinated, and the employees will still be free to choose to be vaccinated," the judge noted. "Declining to issue a preliminary injunction would force Plaintiffs to comply with the mandate, requiring them to make decisions which would significantly alter their ability to perform federal contract work which is critical to their operations."

On Nov. 4, the Department of Labor announced an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) on mandatory COVID-19 vaccines or testing. 

The ETS applies to businesses with 100 more employees and was set to go into effect on Jan. 4—then Jan. 18—requiring businesses to have their employees show vaccination status or start weekly COVID-19 testing.

Previously, an affiliation of 30 trade associations from across the construction industry raised concerns about the effect vaccine mandates will have on the industry in a letter sent to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Industry response

Associated Builders and Contractors said it applauded the court for granting the nationwide preliminary injunction order against the federal contractor vaccine mandate. 

“ABC’s participation in the case was essential to nationwide and construction industry relief, which would otherwise have been limited to the states that sued,” said Ben Brubeck, ABC VP of regulatory, labor and state affairs. “This is a big win in removing compliance hurdles for the construction industry, which is facing economic challenges, such as a workforce shortage of 430,000, rising materials prices and supply chain issues. ABC continues to support vaccinations and encourages members to use its COVID-19 vaccination toolkit, resources and guidance for federal contractors to keep workers safe on construction job sites.”

ABC, which represents thousands of members in the construction industry, joined a coalition of states in presenting legal action against the mandate, the only private business group to sue over the federal contractor and subcontractor vaccine mandate. 

ABC argued the executive order exceeds the Biden administration’s authority and is likely to increase costs and undermine efficiency in federal contracting.

On Nov. 18, ABC and its Georgia Chapter filed a motion to intervene in support of a suit filed by the state of Georgia and six other states in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia Augusta Division.

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