FILE - Herbert Slatery Tennessee attorney general

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery

(The Center Square) – Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery joined six other attorneys general Friday in challenging the Biden administration’s mandate on private employer COVID-19 vaccinations.

Biden’s mandate, through the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), says businesses with 100 or more employees must ensure their workers are vaccinated or require weekly COVID-19 testing by Jan. 4.

Friday's petition in the U.S. Court of Appeals asks the court to review the emergency temporary standard, which would require tens of millions of Americans across the country to get the vaccine.

“As we anticipated, the mandate asserts an unprecedented expansion of emergency regulatory powers by a federal agency,” Slatery said. “Its scope and breadth is only exceeded by its length (about 500 pages). It also fails to consider the many steps already taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by individuals, employers and our state.”

The lawsuit claims the OSHA lacks statutory and constitutional authority to issue it.

Jim Brown, the Tennessee Director of the National Foundation of Independent Business, said he began hearing Thursday from some of his group’s larger members about the OHSA rule.

"NFIB appreciates the swift action by General Slatery to join the effort to stop this overreach by the federal government," Brown said. "As stated yesterday in our national release, NFIB remains opposed to OSHA’s [emergency temporary standard] rule that restricts the freedom of small business owners to decide how best to operate their own businesses and imposes unwarranted burdens on small businesses that further threaten the small business recovery.

"We continue to hear from independent businesses in Tennessee who now appear to be caught in the middle of pending and conflicting state law and federal rule. Hopefully, today’s lawsuit against the rule will proceed speedily and successfully, so Tennessee businesses can have the critical clarity they need," Brown said.

The states requesting the review and seeking a stay besides Tennessee include Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Ohio, Oklahoma and West Virginia.

“The power to issue emergency temporary standards was delegated to OSHA by Congress for the express purpose of protecting employees from grave dangers posed by exposure to substances like physically harmful chemicals or asbestos encountered at work,” the group said. “However, that authority does not extend to risks that are equally prevalent at work and in society at large.”

The lawsuit asked the court to halt the implementation of the rule until the court can issue a ruling on the matter.

Staff Reporter

Jon Styf is an award-winning editor and reporter who has worked in Illinois, Texas, Wisconsin, Florida and Michigan in local newsrooms over the past 20 years, working for Shaw Media, Hearst and several other companies.