The U.S. Court of Appeals’ Fifth Circuit continues to review lawsuits filed against the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s vaccine mandate for private employers. Samford University, which falls under OSHA’s private employers list, emailed its employees to give them an update on this mandate and what it will mean for them.
In an email sent out to Samford employees on Nov. 18, Joel Windham, the Assistant Vice President of Human Resources, announced that OSHA issued an emergency temporary standard that will require all private employers with 100 or more employees to be either vaccinated against COVID-19 or provide weekly negative COVID tests and wear a face covering. But, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a per curiam opinion on Nov. 6, stating that OSHA’s temporary standard is “pending expedited judicial review.” (https://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/opinions/unpub/21/21-60845.0.pdf)
“Because the petitions give cause to believe there are grave statutory and constitutional issues with the Mandate, the Mandate is hereby STAYED pending further action by this court,” stated the U.S. Court of Appeals opinion.
Because Samford is subject to OSHA’s temporary standard, university administration said it will continue to prepare should this stay be lifted. The email also stated that this standard would apply to full-time and part-time employees, adjunct professors and student employees.
“Under this standard, covered employers must develop, implement and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, unless they adopt a policy requiring employees to choose to either be vaccinated or undergo regular COVID-19 testing and wear a face covering at work,” OSHA stated in a press release.
While Samford continues to monitor this OSHA standard and its judicial review, the university continues to recommend employees get vaccinated against COVID-19 if they aren’t already.
“Samford will continue to prepare in the event the stay is lifted and the ETS continues according to OSHA’s originally scheduled January 3, 2022, implementation date,” Windham stated in the email.
As of publication, COVID cases remain very low at Samford University as students and faculty adjust to the more lenient mask requirements around campus. Students and employees are still required to wear masks in classrooms, and masks are strongly encouraged in other indoor spaces like the Caf and University Center.