Supreme Court calls special session for vaccine cases

December 27, 2021

Mark Schremmer

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The U.S. Supreme Court will hold a special session Jan. 7 to hear arguments involving two federal COVID-19 vaccine rules.

The special session will examine the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s vaccine rule for large employers, as well as a separate vaccine requirement for healthcare workers.

Earlier this month, OSHA announced that it planned to move forward with its rule after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed an earlier court decision to put the emergency temporary standard on hold. The OSHA rule would make companies with 100 or more employees require their workers to either receive the vaccine or be tested weekly. Opponents contend that the rule oversteps and is unconstitutional. The Fifth Circuit, which imposed the stay, called the rule “fatally flawed” and “staggeringly overbroad.” The Sixth Circuit ruled 2-1 that the OSHA standard could move forward.

The Supreme Court also will look at a separate rule that will require health care providers that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid funding to have their workers fully vaccinated.

Both rules are set to take effect early in 2022, which prompted the Supreme Court to hold the special session. The court had not been scheduled to return until Jan. 10.

To provide employers with sufficient time to come into compliance, OSHA said it will not issue citations for noncompliance with any requirements of the rule before Jan. 10. Compliance with the testing portion of the requirement is Feb. 9 “as long as an employer is exercising reasonable, good faith efforts to come into compliance with the standard.”

What’s this means for truckers?

The vast majority of truck drivers will not fall under the OSHA rule because 96% of motor carriers have no more than 25 drivers. In addition, U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said earlier this year that the rule wouldn’t apply to most truck drivers since they are alone in their cab. However, it is expected that team drivers at large fleets would be required to either get the vaccine or weekly testing.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association says that all truck drivers should be exempt from the rule, including team drivers. LL

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.