On Tuesday, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky issued a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of the federal contractor COVID-19 vaccine mandate in Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee.
President Joe Biden signed the mandate—Executive Order 14042—on September 9, 2021, directing the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force to provide guidance on adequate COVID-19 safeguards that would apply to federal contractors and subcontractors. The task force released the guidance on September 24.
The guidance requires all covered contractor employees to be fully vaccinated by January 18, 2022, unless they are legally entitled to an accommodation. The directive officially applies only to all newly awarded or renewed covered contracts. The Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council issued a deviation clause, however, encouraging federal agencies and contractors to incorporate the vaccine rules into current contracts as well.
On November 4, the Commonwealth of Kentucky and others filed a lawsuit arguing the federal contractor vaccine mandate was contrary to procedure and arbitrary and capricious and violated the U.S. Constitution. The court granted their request for a preliminary injunction and halted the U.S. government from enforcing the shot mandate for federal contractors and subcontractors for all covered contracts in Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee.
The preliminary injunction doesn’t apply nationwide and could be lifted as the case progresses. While other lawsuits challenging the federal contractor vaccine mandate are pending, the Eastern District is the only one, to date, that has blocked its enforcement.
We will continue to monitor the pending and various legal challenges to the federal contractor vaccine mandate.
For more information, contact the employment law attorneys with Frost Brown Todd LLC in Kentucky and Ohio.