LITTLE ROCK — Attorney General Rutledge today joined a coalition of 27 attorneys general in a letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) asking the agency to withdraw its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for large employers.
The letter follows a 6-3 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court last week blocking the Biden Administration’s OSHA vaccine mandate in response to a legal challenge brought by Attorney General Rutledge and other state attorneys general in addition to trade groups, nonprofits, and private businesses. Despite the Supreme Court’s ruling, OSHA has not withdrawn the emergency temporary standard (ETS), which would require vaccination for tens of millions of employees across the country.
“The Supreme Court made it clear the vaccine mandate is illegal federal overreach” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “We must protect the freedoms of Arkansas workers from these unlawful actions.”
In the letter, the coalition explains that the current OSHA mandate is unlawful because the agency does not have the authority to issue a broad vaccine mandate for larger employers. The letter states that, “The Occupational Safety and Health Act was designed to address dangers employees face at work because of their work—not dangers that are no more prevalent at work than in society generally. The United States Supreme Court agrees and held that the ETS—or any similar permanent standard for that matter—fails to address a unique workplace hazard and is therefore unlawful.”
The coalition also described the detrimental effect that the OSHA mandate will have on employers and businesses if it were to go into effect: “The ETS fails to adequately consider the widespread economic damage the vaccine mandate may cause. This impact will be especially felt by vulnerable small businesses if a permanent standard applies to them.”
The letter was sent to OSHA as part of the federal government’s formal regulatory comment process. The letter was led by Kentucky and co-signed by attorneys general from Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.