On Thursday, April 7, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed the decision by Judge Jeffrey Vincent Brown that blocked the Biden Administration from requiring federal workers to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
In September of 2021, President Biden stated that federal workers had to be vaccinated against Covid-19, or they would face disciplinary action. However, a preliminary injunction issued by Judge Brown in January stopped the administration from enforcing the mandate. Judge Brown ruled that the President did not have the authority to force employees to undergo a medical procedure as a condition of their employment. Instead, Judge Brown proposed that less invasive measures could be implemented in the name of public health, such as social distancing, remote work, and mandating face masks or other personal protective equipment (“PPE”). Judge Brown was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas in 2019 by former President Donald J. Trump.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Judge Brown’s decision, stating that he did not have the jurisdiction to block the mandate as the mandate’s challengers are yet to show a substantial likelihood of success on their claims. In addition to its reversal of Brown’s decision, the court also suggested that another mandate lawsuit filed by Feds for Medical Freedom (an organization that fights federal mandates) should also be dismissed.
This mandate was implemented due to the surge in Delta variant cases last year and applied to healthcare workers and some private employees. The Supreme Court blocked the Biden Administration from enforcing a broader vaccine-or-test mandate for large employers. However, the Supreme Court did allow for the enforcement of a vaccine mandate for employees of healthcare facilities that receive federal funds. Relatedly the administration’s vaccine requirement aimed at employees of federal contractors was also blocked by a federal judge in December of 2021.
According to the White House, about 95% of federal workers were already vaccinated when Judge Brown’s injunction was issued. However, it remains to be seen what effect, if any, this reversal will have on other federal and private-sector employees.
Here at Hoyer Law Group PLLC, our knowledgeable attorneys have extensive experience in a wide range of employment cases. If you need assistance with any federal or private employment matter, don’t hesitate to call us at (800)-651-2502 or contact us today!