Update on Status of Federal Contractor Vaccine Mandate as of March 22, 2022
President Biden’s vaccine mandate for federal contractors (EO 14042) remains under a nationwide injunction issued by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia on December 7, 2021. The federal government appealed this injunction to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Oral arguments on the federal government’s appeal are currently scheduled for April 8, 2022.
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia issued a subsequent order on January 21, 2022, clarifying that the ruling on the injunction only applied to the vaccine mandate. Other aspects of EO 14042 would remain in effect, including the health and safety protocols such as masking and social distancing. Meanwhile, other federal courts enjoined EO 14042 in its entirety, but only in certain states (Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Wyoming). As such, the Safer Federal Workforce issued a statement that the Government will not take any action to enforce any clause of EO 14042 until the federal government’s appeal is resolved.
A decision on whether the federal contractor vaccine mandate will be enforceable will not occur until sometime after April 8, 2022. In the meantime, Federal contractors should likely wait until further guidance has been issued to act on any related policies or initiatives if they have not done so already. Please note, however, federal contractor employees may still have to abide by federal agency COVID-19 workplace safety protocols for federal buildings and federally controlled facilities. As an aside, the Department of Labor’s OSHA vaccine mandate for large employers with 100 or more employees is still withdrawn and there have been no new mandates issued by the Government.