US: Appeals court restores vaccine commitment to firms Biden orders

US: Appeals court restores vaccine commitment to firms Biden orders

As the Omicron variant progresses around the world, a US federal court ruling should satisfy Joe Biden. On Friday, December 17, it reinstated the vaccination obligation for employees of major corporations, which the Biden administration wanted to stop the Covid-19 pandemic, and which was suspended in early November by another body. The controversial measure is forcing tens of millions of employees at companies with more than 100 employees to be vaccinated by January 4, under pain of very regular testing.

Announced in mid-September, it was adopted in early November by the White House and promptly challenged in court, notably by Republican-controlled Texas who oppose any vaccine commitment to combat the pandemic. The Texas Court of Appeals suspended that action on November 6, pending review of the merits of the lawsuit.

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“Protection of workers”

Another New Orleans appeals court had upheld that suspension in mid-November, saying the vaccination obligation was “substantially” beyond the authority of the US government. And on Friday, in its decision, the Ohio Court of Appeals, which seized it, explained, “It was established that Covid-19 continued to spread, mutate, kill and prevent the safe return of American employees to their work.” The Ministry of Justice to decide on all appeals. This decision can still be appealed to the US Supreme Court.

Judge Jane Strache adds: “To protect workers, the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Agency (Osha) can and should be able to respond to evolving hazards.” She notes that Osha has already wielded broad powers in history to ensure worker safety and “demonstrated the broad danger that Covid-19 poses to workers – particularly unvaccinated – in their workplace”. The suspension of the vaccine commitment was a major setback for Democratic President Joe Biden, who considered the measure “the best way out of this pandemic.” “A lot of people remain unvaccinated until we can get out for good,” he said.

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