Utah among states challenging President Biden's vaccine mandate in court

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the October jobs report from the State Dining Room of the White House, Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, in Washington. Utah joined four other states Friday in asking a federal appeals court in Texas to review President Joe Biden's COVID-19 new vaccination rules for large businesses.

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the October jobs report from the State Dining Room of the White House, Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, in Washington. Utah joined four other states Friday in asking a federal appeals court in Texas to review President Joe Biden's COVID-19 new vaccination rules for large businesses. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah joined four other states Friday in asking a federal appeals court in Texas to review President Joe Biden's COVID-19 new vaccination rules for large businesses.

The petition filed in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals comes a day after the Occupational Safety and Hazards Administration issued a rule requiring employers with 100 or more employees to ensure each of their workers is fully vaccinated or tests negative for the coronavirus at least once a week. Workers who aren't vaccinated would also be required to wear masks on the job.

The deadline for compliance is Jan. 4. Companies that don't comply could be fined nearly $14,000 per violation.

The rule was published in the Federal Register on Friday.

In addition to Utah, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina as well as several businesses in some of those states, are challenging the mandate. The U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA, Labor Secretary Martin Walsh and assistant secretary of Labor Doug Parker are named in the petition.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes was among 24 Republican attorneys general who threatened to sue the Biden administration once the rule became official. The president announced in September a plan to get more Americans vaccinated and turn back the pandemic.

The attorneys general called the plan "disastrous and counterproductive" in a letter to Biden shortly after the announcement.

"And at least some Americans will simply leave the job market instead of complying. This will further strain an already-too-tight labor market, burdening companies and (therefore) threatening the jobs of even those who have received vaccines," according to the letter.

Following release of the letter, Reyes said he believes his stance reflects the will of most Utahns.

"Both employers and employees in Utah, with unprecedented fervor, have flooded my office with messages of dire concern and extreme opposition to the proposed mandate," Reyes said in a statement last week. "I firmly agree."

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Dennis Romboy

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