COVID-19 has led to vaccine mandates, setting the stage for the request of temporary injunctions and ensuing legal drama. If the vaccine mandate litigation forces law firms that do business with the federal government to have fully vaccinated staff members, the focus will shift to employees vs. employers, state vs. federal government vaccine requirements, and whether forced jabs for employment are morally correct. There is also the challenge presented to law firms of representing clients who push back against vaccine requirements, arguing mandate constitutionality through discrimination lawsuits.
Law Firms are in the Spotlight as the Vaccination Drama Plays Out
There is a meritorious argument to make that mandate rollbacks about vaccinations and masks should be implemented in the weeks ahead simply because positive cases are rapidly declining. It appears as though the Omicron variant of coronavirus has peaked. Though many healthcare workers were initially required to be vaccinated to treat patients, all signs point toward the pandemic slowing and ultimately setting the stage for a gradual return to normal.
The question is whether the Biden administration and employers will continue to push for employee vaccinations. As has been widely publicized, the Biden administration wants everyone who works for the federal government and companies that do business with the federal government to be fully vaccinated. However, it is easier for employers to implement a voluntary vaccination policy as opposed to the federal or even a state government forcing private employers to mandate employee vaccination.
Law firms are unlikely to push employees toward vaccination simply because firm partners are well aware that those who work in the legal industry do not shy away from litigation. There is a good argument to be made that forced vaccination for employment is a violation of one’s civil rights. Furthermore, managing partners are paying close attention to recent litigation developments in the aftermath of two federal district court judges halting vaccine mandates for healthcare workers. Vaccine mandate litigation may soon sprout up as a robust practice area.
Vaccine Litigation is Taking Shape
Up until this point, vaccine litigation has centered on employees vs. employers and states vs. federal government. Employers are free to operate their enterprise in their preferred manner yet the law imposes limitations on those operations. The implementation of a voluntary policy in a manner that the federal government cannot legally enforce on private industry is respected by law yet the Biden administration seems intent on forcing the hand of private employers, especially if they have contracts with the federal government or have a certain number of employees.
As an example, the administration’s federal mandate required that unvaccinated health care workers who work at healthcare facilities that provide Medicaid or Medicare programs, as well as those who work for nursing homes and hospitals receive their initial shot by the 6th of December and be fully vaccinated by the 4th of January. However, a temporary injunction was issued, blocking the mandate and delaying the matter for resolution at some point in the future. Stay tuned for additional developments in the weeks and months ahead.