In a 6-3 Decision on January 13, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the proposed federal vaccine-or-testing mandate for large employers (100+ employees), determining that such efforts exceeded executive authority.
The Court did allow a more modest mandate requiring health care workers at facilities receiving federal money to be vaccinated.
What does this mean for employers in Florida? Because there is no federal standard addressing COVID safety measures, that leaves it up to the states to impose their own restrictions. Therefore, the Florida law passed in November 2021 that in effect prohibits employer vaccination mandates is the “law of the land.” While we have not heard of particular cases yet, that law contemplates fines for employers who do impose mandates without permitting the required exemptions. The exemptions are very broad and include exemptions for those who have had COVID already as well as those who agree to wear PPE like masks.
What is next on the federal level? While we do not know for sure, our prediction is that the Biden Administration may work to propose a modified version of the mandate, but this would risk similar treatment in the courts.
What can employers do in FL who wanted to impose a mandate? It’s time to get creative with your workforce. You can still incentivize vaccination and mandate masking, and if possible, you can consider having shifts for vaccinated employees vs. unvaccinated employees provided you are not negatively impacting either group with the changes. Some employers are having vaccine clinics on site to make the process easier if that is a barrier.
We will continue to monitor for new developments, but please continue to reach out with any questions along the way.