FILE: COVID-19 Vaccine Dose

(The Center Square) – The California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA) will hold off implementing a mandate-or-test workplace vaccination rule as a new federal OSHA requirement faces mounting legal challenges across the U.S.

Cal/OSHA has announced it will wait to implement a requirement for employers with 100 or more employees to mandate COVID-19 vaccination or require testing at least weekly, which would align with a federal OSHA requirement enacted Nov. 5.

This decision comes after the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals granted a motion on Nov. 6 to temporarily stay the federal OSHA requirement to implement the COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). The court then granted an extension of the stay Nov. 12. 

The Fifth Circuit ordered that federal OSHA “take no steps to implement or enforce” the ETS “until further court order.” As a result, federal OSHA officials have said they will not require states that enforce their own workplace safety programs, like California, to implement the ETS while the stay remains in effect.

Prior to the court decision, the Cal/OSHA board was set to meet Thursday to consider adopting the federal ETS, but that vote has been delayed. Cal/OSHA told The Center Square that while the stay remains in effect, it will “take no further steps” to implement the federal ETS.

Prior business requirements pertaining to COVID-19, however, do remain in effect for California employers and are unaffected by the Fifth Circuit’s order, Cal/OSHA said. Under the requirements that went into effect in June, employees who are fully vaccinated are not required to wear face coverings indoors at work except for in certain outbreak situations and do not need to be tested or quarantined after being exposed to COVID-19 unless they show symptoms.

The federal OSHA requirement has faced opposition from several states and business groups, and about 34 lawsuits have been filed since it was announced earlier this month. The court decision is now moving on to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and could ultimately end up being heard in the Supreme Court, experts say.

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Staff Reporter

Madison Hirneisen is a staff reporter covering California for The Center Square. Madison has experience covering both local and national news and is a graduate of Liberty University. She currently resides in Southern California.