On December 7, a federal district court in Georgia issued a preliminary injunction that prevents the mandatory vaccination provisions of executive order 14042 from taking effect. The order would have required employees of federal contractors and subcontractors to require COVID-19 vaccinations without a testing alternative. This suit was filed by a group of seven states with Republican governors. The district court agreed that the White House exceeded its statutory procurement authority in requiring such vaccinations.
When other COVID-19 vaccination mandates were enjoined, the agencies behind them announced that they would stop implementation and enforcement of those requirements until the injunctions are resolved. This response is likely for the federal contractor rules as well. This means that it is unlikely that the rules will take effect on January 4 as originally proposed.
The Georgia court’s order is unclear as to whether the preliminary injunction applies only to the vaccine mandate portion of the order or the entire order, including masking and social distancing requirements. The court order also does not discuss whether federal agencies can continue to prevent unvaccinated contractors from entering their premises. Hopefully, the court and/or federal procurement agencies will clarify the extent of the current stay.
This decision will certainly be appealed to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. It follows a similar decision by a Kentucky federal court, but that injunction only applies in Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee. As with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration COVID-19 emergency temporary standard (ETS), these multiple legal challenges may be consolidated in one federal appellate circuit. The U.S. Supreme Court is likely to have the final word on whether these regulations will ever take effect.