30 November 2021

Federal Court Strikes Down Federal Contractor Vaccine Mandate in 3 States

Earlier today, a federal district court in Kentucky issued a preliminary injunction against the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal contractors and subcontractors.  The court’s injunction only applies to contractors and subcontractors in Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee whose contracts would otherwise be covered by Executive Order 14042’s vaccination mandate.  The district court found that the Biden administration exceeded its authority on several grounds in enacting a public health requirement pursuant to a federal procurement and supply statute.  In limiting the scope of its holding to the three Midwest states, the court stated that nationwide injunctions are generally to be avoided because “they force judges into making rushed, high-stakes, low-information decisions.”

Note that the federal contractor mandate is a separate federal mandate from OSHA’s vaccine-or-test mandate for employers with at least 100 employees, which is currently stayed by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in all 50 states.  The Kentucky court’s order also has no impact on the vaccine mandate for employees of Medicare- and Medicaid-certified healthcare providers, which was enjoined in 10 states yesterday by a separate court decision in Missouri.  (Miller Johnson’s alert on yesterday’s decision may be accessed here.)

Under the Biden administration’s federal contractor mandate, all employees on “covered contracts” and working in “covered contractor workplaces” not within the three states above must be vaccinated by January 4 or removed from the workplace unless they receive a medical or religious accommodation.  In addition, all covered contractors and subcontractors must comply with all FAQs published by the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force.

We will be sure to update our contractor and subcontractor clients of any relevant developments.  Please contact your Miller Johnson attorney if you have any questions.