On December 7, 2021, Judge R. Stan Baker, a federal judge for U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, issued a nationwide injunction to block the enforcement of a vaccine mandate for federal contractors and subcontractors issued in response to President Biden’s Executive Order (EO) 14042, “Ensuring Adequate COVID Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors.”
This decision stems from a lawsuit that was originally filed on October 29, 2021 by a group of plaintiffs, including seven states, several governors of those states and agencies seeking injunctive relief. After a national trade association, the Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. (“ABC”), intervened in the lawsuit, Judge Baker concluded that a nationwide injunction was warranted given the reach of ABC’s membership. Specifically, ABC has members across the U.S. and has been awarded 57% of federal contracts exceeding $25 million during the fiscal years 2009-2020.
In issuing the injunction, the Court found that the Plaintiffs will likely succeed in proving that the Executive Order exceeds the President’s powers issued by Congress under the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act; however, the judge did not rule on the constitutionality of the EO. An appeal to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to be filed by the federal government.
In light of this decision, employers subject to this EO are no longer required to mandate the vaccination of their covered workers. Since the injunction does not appear to halt enforcement of other COVID-19 requirements for federal contractors, such as those relating to masking and social distancing, employers are encouraged to consult legal counsel to ensure compliance with the EO’s remaining obligations.
If you have questions about this recent decision or how it may impact your business, please contact a member of our employment team:
Lorna Hebert firstname.lastname@example.org (617) 512-8401
Christy Kotowski email@example.com (510)-748-0930
Trish Lantzy firstname.lastname@example.org (804) 683-1737
Natasha Lipcan email@example.com (203) 820-6754
Margaret Scheele firstname.lastname@example.org (703) 408-4718
Lorna Hebert (New England team) is an employment, labor, higher education, and litigation attorney with nearly 30 years of experience handling a broad range of complex employment and labor matters. Lorna advises clients on a wide range of employment matters, including workplace investigations, dispute resolution, hiring, performance management, discipline, terminations, reorganizations, accommodations, employee benefits, wage and hour issues, discrimination claims, policies and procedures, and training.
Christy Kotowski (California) Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Christy handles a broad range of complex workplace issues at the federal, state and local levels. Previously, she worked as in-house employment counsel for several large companies, and started her legal career in the Silicon Valley office of Morrison & Foerster, one of California’s oldest and largest law firms.
Patricia Lantzy (Washington D.C. team) is a labor and employment attorney with almost 30 years of experience. Trish works with a wide range of clients, from individual executives and small businesses to the Fortune 500, on employment-related issues across the employee lifecycle, including recruiting, hiring, workplace harmony and leave issues, performance and discipline/discharge, corporate reorganizations and reductions in force.
Natasha Lipcan (New York team) is an employment law attorney with more than 20 years of experience representing private employers in a broad range of employee-related matters. She handles a wide range of employment issues, including employment law compliance, organizational change, diversity and inclusion, employment-related agreements, arbitrations and litigations, wage and hour, workplace training and policies, and recruiting, hiring, managing and terminating employees.
Margaret Scheele (Washington D.C. team) is an employment law attorney with almost 30 years of experience. Margaret has represented a range of clients in a variety of industries, including aviation, food service, telecommunications, health care, and government contracting. Her practice includes the full range of advice and counseling work that arises within the employment context, including most recently COVID-related matters.