YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – On Thursday, President Joe Biden spoke about his new vaccine mandate. Federal government employees, contractors, medical facilities that accept Medicare and Medicaid and any employer with 100 employees or more will all need to make sure employees are vaccinated or they’ll have to show weekly negative COVID-19 test results.
We spoke with a local labor law expert to find out more about the legality of the mandate.
“I’m not sure either [if it’s legal] from my end since I represent only employers. I think it’s not, but that being said, OSHA has the right under Congress’ initial legislation. They have the responsibility to protect the American worker,” said Attorney Tim Jacob.
Jacob exclusively practices labor law.
“I’ve had to immerse myself in COVID-related employment regulations and laws since this all started, because laws changed literally overnight,” he said.
President Biden’s mandate would be carried out by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which oversees worker safety in the United States.
“It’s honestly questionable whether or not OSHA has the authority to do what they’re going to do but they’re going to do it until somebody stops them. I’m assuming there will be litigation,” Jacob said.
Those official guidelines still have yet to be released. So far, the White House has put out a summary of what those regulations will say.
“OSHA has been told to put this regulation together but they still have yet to do it. The last time it was told to do this for health care it took six months,” Jacob said.
Even though the actual law hasn’t been released, Jacob says the announcement gives businesses time to start getting systems in place for when it is.
“Under current regulations, that could be a $14,000 fine,” he said.
Jacob says that $14,000 could be per citation, meaning per employee. Any litigation against the federal government could take years to resolve — time many companies don’t have to fight the law.
“This is going to be subject to a lot of legal challenges and they’re probably going to be successful, but by then, people might have seen the writing on the wall and they’re going to get a vaccination,” Jacob said.