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Private employer vaccine mandate rule could be released this week

Published: Nov. 3, 2021 at 4:19 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The federal government could formally issue a rule requiring large private employers to ensure their workers are vaccinated against COVID-19 this week.

The rule has been in the works since President Biden announced the mandate in September.

Just like with the federal vaccine mandate on federal contractors, there could be legal challenges to the mandate on private employers.

Federal officials in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are putting the final touches on a rule to require large employers to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine.

The rule is part of a series of executive actions President Biden took in September to increase vaccination rates.

The rule will apply to private employers with 100 or more employees.

It will require them to ensure their employees are vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to weekly testing.

“The bottom line: We’re going to protect vaccinated workers from unvaccinated co-workers,” Biden said. “We’re going to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by increasing the share of the workforce that is vaccinated in businesses all across America.”

Republican officials are threatening to challenge the private employer mandate as soon as the rule is formally published by OSHA.

Tennessee’s attorney general Herbert Slatery said the mandate “likely violates” federal law.

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves says his state will file a lawsuit challenging the federal mandates by the end of this week.

On Wednesday, Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn and Mississippi Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith joined their Republican colleagues to announce a new effort to try to have Congress nullify the president’s mandate on private employers under the Congressional Review Act.

“If you don’t get the jab, Joe Biden is going to get you fired from your job,” Blackburn said. “That’s the message that they’re sending, that the vaccine and getting a shot is more important than you being able to provide for your family.”

“I have chosen to be vaccinated, and that was my choice after meeting with my medical physician. But a blanket mandate is just not the answer,” said Hyde-Smith.

But their effort faces an uphill climb as it requires approval in both the House and Senate, which are controlled by Democrats.

Some reports indicate the OSHA rule could be published as soon as Thursday.

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