US employment lawyer Scott Cruz’s phone has been ringing off the hook in recent weeks as clients scramble to put in place obligatory “vaccine or test” policies for all workers.
He has been fielding very different calls since Thursday, when the Supreme Court blocked President Joe Biden’s federal mandate and handed control back to companies and states to decide their own Covid-19 inoculation regimes.
Small and medium-sized companies are “breathing a sigh of relief”, according to Cruz, who works for law firm Greensfelder in Chicago. While the mandate was a “great source of work” for people in his profession, “for clients it was an administrative and logistical nightmare . . . not many of them were happy about it”.
The change is the latest hurdle for global companies struggling with how to approach worker vaccinations. With a tangle of labour laws to navigate in each country they operate and facing different levels of government willingness to legislate, the result is a patchwork of policies and a potential mountain of litigation.
Even before Biden made his demand, the stance of US companies on employee vaccines had been among the toughest in the world.
United Airlines last year fired almost 200 employees who failed to provide proof of vaccination or exemption. The company told the Financial Times on Thursday it would not be changing its policy, which predated Biden’s move.
In a memo to staff this week, seen by the Financial Times, chief executive Scott Kirby said there were “approximately 8-10 United employees who are alive today because of our vaccine requirement”. Before the policy came in, he added, one employee a week was dying of Covid-19 on average. A judge sided with United in November when…
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