The Biden administration filed an emergency lawsuit on Tuesday seeking to immediately reinstate its vaccine mandate for private employers with 100 or more workers after it faced a series of legal challenges.
Earlier this month, the Fifth Circuit Court in New Orleans issued a preliminary pause on the order, which prevented the Occupational Safety and Health Administration from moving forward in implementing the employer rules.
The Justice Department argues in its filing, according to The Wall Street Journal, that the rules reflect “OSHA’s judgment that these measures are necessary to mitigate Covid-19 transmission in the workplace, and the grievous harms the virus inflicts on workers.”
The Justice Department told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit that “the threat to workers is ongoing and overwhelming” as offices reopen and the highly transmissible delta variant spreads.
“Simply put, delaying the Standard would likely cost many lives per day, in addition to large numbers of hospitalizations, other serious health effects, and tremendous expenses. That is a confluence of harms of the highest order,” the Justice Department argued in its motion.
The OSHA rule requires companies with 100 or more employees to require their workers to either be vaccinated or take a COVID-19 test weekly starting January 4.
The rule also requires that masks be worn indoors at the workplace for unvaccinated staff. That policy was set to take effect on December 5.
The Biden administration asked the court to at least permit the masking and testing requirements for unvaccinated workers to remain in effect as a stop-gap measure as the litigation plays out.
“Although vaccination is the most effective means of mitigating the grave danger of COVID-19 in the workplace, masking and testing for unvaccinated employees is a reasonably effective alternative,” the administration told the court.