On August 26, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit narrowed the scope of a nationwide injunction that had barred enforcement of President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 federal contractor vaccine mandate to only apply to those who were plaintiffs in the case. Recall, in December 2021, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia had issued a nationwide injunction, finding that President Biden had likely exceeded his authority under federal law when he issued Executive Order 14042. However, the only plaintiffs were the seven states of Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia, as well as a construction industry trade association (Associated Builders and Contractors).
On August 31, 2022, the Biden administration updated its Safer Federal Workforce Task Force guidance on the federal contractor COVID-19 vaccine mandate. According to the new guidance, “the Federal Government will take no action to implement or enforce Executive Order 14042. For existing contracts or contract-like instruments (hereinafter ‘contracts’) that contain a clause implementing requirements of Executive Order 14042, the Government will take no action to enforce the clause implementing requirements of Executive Order 14042, absent further written notice from the agency.”
Next Steps for Employers
All federal contractors, regardless of their geographic location, can rest easy as the Biden Administration will not be enforcing the mandate for any federal contractors at this time.