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Biden's vaccine rules on large employers, federal contractors already face legal challenges

Posted at 5:25 PM, Nov 04, 2021

CLEVELAND — New rules from the Biden Administration will soon go into effect that will require federal contractors and employees of businesses with 100 or more workers to be vaccinated by Jan. 4, 2022. Announced back in September but finalized earlier this week, the vaccine mandates have drawn criticism by Republican state governors and attorneys general, including Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost. Yost announced Thursday that his office has joined Geauga County’s sheriff and prosecutor in a lawsuit against the vaccine mandate on federal contractors.

Biden’s executive orders could impact more than 100 million Americans in addition to local and state agencies that do business with the federal government, including the Geauga County Sheriff’s Office. The GCSO has a federal contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to house detainees at its facility. The Seneca County sheriff has also joined in the lawsuit along with the attorneys general in Kentucky and Tennessee.

“I’m very concerned because the sheriff has said, “look, I can’t afford to lose any more of my people. If I have people that quit over the vaccine mandate, I’m not going to be able to operate the jail,’” Yost told News 5 on Thursday afternoon. “Yes, the scale of the economic loss is going to have a direct impact on the ability to staff the jail and house these and other prisoners. The tougher question is where do these ICE detainees go?”

It remains unclear how many GCSO deputies and correctional officers intend to leave the department in protest of the vaccine mandate.

Yost said the legal challenge to the mandate should not be viewed as him being anti-vaccine; Yost is fully vaccinated. Instead, Yost said, he views the new federal rules, which will be entered into the Federal Register on Friday, as government overreach.

“The president is not our nanny, not our doctor. The president is not Congress. He doesn’t get to write the law. Our elected representatives are the ones that are supposed to,” Yost said. “Everybody in high school learns that we’ve got three branches of government, checks and balances and separation of powers. This violates that.”

In addition to the vaccine mandate on federal contractors, the new federal rules also require employees of businesses of 100 or more people to be fully vaccinated as well. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been tasked with enforcing the mandate despite not having the necessary resources to do so. Instead, OSHA inspectors will be checking for compliance during regular workplace inspections. Companies will largely be responsible for self-compliance.

Employees that are not fully vaccinated will be required to be tested weekly — at their own cost.

“OSHA is supposed to be about workplace stuff like is there a scaffolding railing to keep you from falling? Are there protections against a vat of acid? It’s stuff that belongs in the workplace,” Yost said. “It’s not about the stuff that is everywhere out in the world.”