By Saba Zafar, Esq.
Jaimee K. Wellerstein, Esq.
On September 9, 2021, President Biden signed Executive Order 14042 (“Order”) initially requiring all new federal contracts to mandate that Covered Contractors (“Federal Contractor Mandate”) be fully vaccinated no later than December 8, 2021, unless they meet an exemption due to sincerely held religious belief or a medical reason. The Federal Contractor Mandate also had provisions requiring compliance with masking and social distancing, as well as designation of a Covid-19 workplace safety officer at Covered Contractor workplaces. The December 8th deadline was extended, and full compliance was expected by January 18, 2022.
The Order also required private employers across the United States with 100 or more employees to implement a mandatory vaccination policy and ensure that their employees were vaccinated (“Private Employer Mandate”), a mandate for which the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) issued Emergency Temporary Standards (“ETS”) setting out applicable rules and deadlines for employers.
Predictably, both mandates received stark opposition. On November 12, 2021, the Fifth Circuit issued an order staying enforcement of the ETS. Similarly, on December 7, 2021, a federal District Court in Georgia issued a nationwide injunction preventing the Federal Contractor Mandate from taking effect.
What Does This Mean for Employers?
For now, employers have been granted a temporary reprieve from complying with either the Federal Contractor Mandate or the Private Employer Mandate. Of course, this may change once the litigation surrounding each mandate is resolved.
Employers should be aware that even though they do not have to comply with President Biden’s Order at the moment, there are numerous other state or local requirements that may require employers to either implement vaccination mandates or require frequent COVID-19 testing for employees, or may require and other COVID-related requirements such as masking and social distancing. These include, but certainly are not limited to, City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, and San Francisco (all three requiring proof of vaccination to enter certain establishments and venues).
Employers are in a bit of a holding pattern until the litigation surrounding these mandates is resolved. However, employers are entitled to implement their own vaccination policies, and must continue to comply with all applicable state and local requirements, as well.
Businesses are urged to review (or implement) their COVID policies, including a vaccination policy. If you have any questions about how the Mandates may impact your obligations, or need assistance with COVID-19 in the workplace or any other business or employment needs, please feel free to contact Bradley, Gmelich + Wellerstein LLP. We are here to help.
Saba Zafar, Esq. is Special Counsel in Bradley & Gmelich LLP’s Employment Law Department. Saba has over a decade of experience as an attorney, primarily in employment law. Saba focuses her practice of providing strategic advice and counsel in all aspects of employment law and workplace matters, including drafting and implementation of HR policies and procedures, Employment Handbooks, providing advice to clients on personnel issues as well as general business matters.
Prior to joining the firm, Saba was a Senior Counsel providing advice and counsel to mid-sized to large businesses on employment law compliance and day-to-day employment issues, including implementing policies and procedures, employee classifications, employment separations, managing and disciplining employees, and COVID-19 rules and regulations. Saba also handled a wide variety of employment matters in state and federal court, including cases involving wrongful termination, discrimination, and wage related cases.
In her spare time, Saba has volunteered as a Mediator for the Department of Consumer Affairs and the Orange County Human Resources Department. She was also a Volunteer Tutor for Schools on Wheels, tutoring elementary school students on skid row in Los Angeles. Prior to practicing law, Saba was a Judicial Extern for California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District.
In her free time, Saba enjoys embarking on culinary adventures and catching up on new television shows.
Jaimee K. Wellerstein, Esq. is a Partner at Bradley & Gmelich LLP, and the Head of the firm’s Employment Department. Jaimee concentrates her practice in representing employers in all aspects of employment law, including defense of wage and hour class actions, PAGA claims, discrimination, retaliation, harassment, wrongful discharge, misclassification, and other employment related lawsuits. She also provides employment counseling and training in all of these areas.
Jaimee routinely represents employers in federal and state courts and in arbitration proceedings throughout the state, as well as at administrative proceedings before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the California Department of Labor Standards Enforcement, the United States Department of Labor, and other federal and state agencies.
Jaimee assists as a Legal Advisor to CALSAGA, and is a member of ASIS International. She is rated AV-Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell, the highest peer rating available. email@example.com