Labor and employment lawyer weighs in on new vaccine mandate for businesses

COVID-19 vaccine
Posted at 5:53 AM, Sep 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-10 06:53:29-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — President Joe Biden's new vaccine mandate could affect more than 100 million people, many of whom are private employees.

In Nashville, labor and employment attorney Rebecca Demaree said it didn’t take long after the president's announcement for the calls to come in. She said, “it is when is this going to be rolled out? When do we have to comply? When do we have to have our employees vaccinated?”

But the answer is still unclear.

"The Emergency Temporary Standards that OSHA is going to put into place just aren’t there yet. I don’t think it will take them too long, but they are not out yet.”

Demaree said the new rule that will require all employers with 100 or more employees to be fully vaccinated or prove a weekly negative COVID test will be enforced through the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

“I was interested in the way that they chose to do it, which was essentially piggy-backing I think on the emergency temporary regulations that they had already put into place for health care workers,” she said.

Companies that fail to comply could face fines of at least $14,000.

“I think there have been some governors that are already going to challenge the vaccination mandate and so we’ll see where that ends up and whether they’ll be an injunction," said Demaree. "I’m assuming that’ll be a fast-track to an injunction hearing ultimately to the Supreme Court perhaps.”

Governor Bill Lee Tweeted after the announcement: “The Constitution won’t allow this power grab, and in the meantime, I will stand up for all Tennesseans.”

Demaree said while she hasn’t seen much legal action against private companies, there are still gray areas. “I think what we may be looking at, you know, with still perhaps an open question whether or not there’s a reaction to the vaccine that some employee may have and they may want to go through the worker’s compensation route.”

She said this will likely affect all private business with at least 100 employees, but if you're unsure of whether the new rule will applies to you, speak with an attorney.