MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD) – President Joe Biden’s sweeping new federal vaccine requirements could impact as many as 100 million Americans across the country, including many in the Lowcountry. Some are questioning the legality of the mandate.
The announcement requires companies with more than 100 employees to mandate vaccines or test for COVID-19 weekly. Local labor attorney Marybeth Mullaney says the mandates are mostly legal.
“OSHA has the authority to institute workplace safety requirements to protect employees in all 50 states,” says Mullaney.
The goal of President Biden’s plan to put pressure on the unvaccinated to get their vaccines and increase the country’s vaccine rates.
The biggest change in the plan would require employers to mandate employees to get vaccinated or conduct COVID-19 testing weekly. Some are questioning whether the government can make large corporations get their employees to roll up their sleeves.
“The supreme court basically set the precedent in 1905 that the government can require and it is constitutional to require vaccines,” says Mullaney.
Mullaney, an employment attorney in Charleston says the new mandates leave little wiggle room for employers and employees. Mullaney says if either fails to comply, employers will likely have to fire them.
“Unless you meet one of the exemptions, your employer can fire you,” says Mullaney. “Your employer has the right to require employees to get vaccinated.”
This mandate is something Mullaney anticipates will face heavy push back from all sides including states like South Carolina with Republican Governors.
“It’s going to be interesting to see how the courts weigh in,” says Mullaney. “Whether the mandate will be found legal, some of it may be struck down, none of it may be struck down.”
President Biden didn’t set a timeline for when the requirements would officially take effect and noted that workers would have plenty of time to get a vaccine. Mullaney anticipates legal challenges could end up in the supreme court.