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What do vaccine mandate rulings mean for employees locally?

Published: Dec. 8, 2021 at 12:03 AM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Federal vaccination mandates are caught up in the federal courts. After a new decision Tuesday, all three major Biden administration vaccine policies for people not directly employed by the government are frozen across the country.

That includes contractors, health care workers, and employees of larger companies. But there’s contradiction in the courts.

In a preliminary injunction, a federal judge in Augusta blocked the COVID vaccine requirement for federal contractors on Tuesday.

But on Monday, a different federal judge in South Carolina refused to issue a preliminary injunction preventing SRS from requiring its employees to get the vaccine.

How does each ruling affect the other?

We’re dealing with two different lawsuits. On the Georgia side, the state sued the Biden administration.

“The federal government can’t tell states what to do if its not in the Constitution,” said Titus Nichols, owner of Nichols Injury Law.

And a federal judge in Georgia blocked the COVID vaccine requirement for federal contractors.

“For the ruling that was in Georgia, that affects the Biden’s administration’s mandate on federal contractors, and it goes into whether or not the federal government has the power to issue mandates that have not been explicitly pushed down by Congress,” he said.

But on the South Carolina side, individual employees sued their employer.

Nichols says there is a big difference between what the federal government can tell private employers to do and what private employers can tell their own employees to do.

“So if a private employer such as SRS wants to pass a particular mandate you must be vaccinated or you will go on unpaid leave, they can do that,” said Nichols.

A federal judge in South Carolina said the management of SRS is allowed to fire employees if they refuse to follow their rules. In this case, getting a COVID vaccine.

“In South Carolina, you have SRS employees bringing a lawsuit against SRS to block the individual mandate that SRS created. Since SRS is an employer and the mandate refers specifically to its particular employees, that’s a different situation to what was argued in the Georgia versus Biden administration,” he said.

Until a court overturns that ruling in South Carolina, SRS employees are going to have to follow that mandate.

So what does this mean?

Right now as it stands, it means in Georgia, federal contractors don’t have to require their employees to be vaccinated. In the case of SRS employees, it means they have to get vaccinated or lose their jobs.

But in both cases, further steps in the lawsuits could change that.

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