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Small Business Group Plans Legal Challenge of Biden Administration’s Proposed Vaccine Mandate

  • Job Creators Network says it plans to sue the Biden administration over its proposed COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employers with 100 or more workers
  • Group charges that the mandate is an overreach of federal power and would hinder small business growth
  • National Federation of Independent Business protests vaccine mandate proposal in letter to Labor Department

Summary by Dirk Langeveld

A conservative small business advocacy group has announced that it plans to file a lawsuit against the Biden administration over its proposed COVID-19 vaccine mandate for companies with 100 or more employees. Another small business group has also protested the administration’s proposal, while a third simply urges the White House to proceed with caution.

The Job Creators Network, which was established by Home Depot founder Bernie Marcus and advocates for causes such as lower taxes and free market health care and competition, announced its intention to take legal action in a press release on Thursday. The organization said some of its small business members will join it in filing the litigation.

“Small businesses are already contending with a historic labor shortage and this order will add expensive new barriers to finding and keeping employees, causing significant harm at the worst possible time,” said Alfredo Ortiz, president and CEO of the Job Creators Network. “The federal government doesn’t have the power to require small businesses to carry out its de facto national vaccine mandate. JCN’s lawsuit intends to block this federal power grab.”

The White House recently announced that it is directing the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration to develop a temporary emergency standard to require employers with at least 100 workers to require their employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or be tested weekly. The order came in response to a spike in COVID-19 cases brought on by the Delta variant, which has largely affected unvaccinated populations and led to a slowdown in the nation’s economic recovery.

The proposal was immediately met with threats of a legal challenge. Among those vowing to bring the matter to court are 24 Republican state attorneys general.

The National Federation of Independent Business, another small business advocacy group, stopped short of saying it would sue, but issued a letter to Labor Secretary Martin J. Walsh and OSHA Acting Assistant Secretary J.S. Frederick. The communication questions OSHA’s authority to issue a vaccine mandate and says an emergency temporary standard would be unfeasible because it would need to be tailored to numerous different kinds of workplaces and employee arrangements.

“The National Federation of Independent Business objects strongly to the federal government’s commandeering of America’s small and independent businesses to serve as the government’s instruments of coercion against their own employees,” the letter states.

NFIB also cited a recent survey of 586 of its members between Sept. 1 and Sept. 6, which concluded that 83 percent had no vaccination requirement for their employees or were not considering such a requirement. Fourteen percent were considering a vaccine mandate, and 3 percent had already put one in place.

The National Small Business Association offered a more tepid response, saying the mandate is unlikely to affect most small enterprises due to its cap of 100 employees. However, it also urged the White House to proceed cautiously, saying it was “critical that any kind of mandate of this magnitude is given ample consideration both for its overall efficacy as well as potential unintended negative consequences.”

Several business groups have refrained from criticism of the proposal or actively supported it. A number of high-profile companies have put their own vaccine mandates into place. The Biden administration’s proposal has also won broad public support, with nearly 60 percent of respondents in a Morning Consult and Politico poll in favor of the mandate.

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