Biden

President Joe Biden speaks about the government's COVID-19 response, in the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House Campus in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

For companies that were waiting to hear from the US Supreme Court before deciding whether to require vaccinations or regular Coronavirus testing for workers, the next move is up to them. 

Many large corporations were silent on Thursday’s ruling by the high court  to block a requirement that workers at businesses with at least 100 employees be fully vaccinated or else test regularly for COVID-19 and wear a mask on the job. 

Target’s response was typical: The big retailer said it wanted to review the decision and “how it will impact our team and business.”

The Biden administration argues that nothing in federal law prevents private businesses from imposing their own vaccine requirements. However, companies could run into state bans on vaccine mandates in Republican-controlled states. And relatively few businesses enacted their own rules ahead of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirement, raising doubt that there will be rush for them now.

In legal terms, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority said the OSHA lacked authority to impose such a mandate on big companies. The court, however, let stand a vaccination requirement for most health-care workers.

The National Retail Federation, the nation’s largest retail trade organization and one of the groups that challenged the OSHA action, called the court’s decision “a significant victory for employers.” It complained that OSHA acted without first allowing public comments, although administration officials met with many business and labor groups before issuing the rule.

Chris Spear, the president of the American Trucking Associations, another of the groups that fought the OSHA rule, said it “would interfere with individuals’ private health care decisions.”

Karen Harned, an official with the National Federation of Independent Business, said that as small businesses try to recover from nearly two years of pandemic, “the last thing they need is a mandate that would cause more business challenges.”

But mandate supporters called it a matter of safety for employees and customers.

Dan Simons, co-owner of the Founding Farmers chain of restaurants in the Washington area, said vaccine mandates are “common sense.” He requires his 1,000 employees to be fully vaccinated; those who request an exemption must wear a mask and submit weekly COVID test results.

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