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Florida joins Georgia, Alabama in challenge to vaccination requirements

Ron DeSantis at the podium
News Service of Florida
Gov. Ron DeSantis, flanked by Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo and state Rep. Cyndi Stevenson, announced Florida will challenge federal vaccination requirements.

The lawsuit challenges a rule issued by OSHA that will require employers with 100 or more workers to ensure their employees are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or test negative at least once a week.

Florida, Georgia and Alabama filed a challenge Friday against a Biden administration rule aimed at requiring workers at large employers across the country to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Attorney General Ashley Moody announced Thursday that the challenge would be filed at the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

As of early Friday evening, they had not announced further details. But information posted on the websites of Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said the challenge was filed at the Atlanta-based appeals court against the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

“Today, I’ve challenged the Biden Administration’s latest attempt to wreck our nation’s economy while satiating the left’s infatuation with government mandated immunization,” Marshall said in a statement on his website.

In addition to the states, plaintiffs include private employers.

The rule, which was released Thursday and published in the Federal Register on Friday, applies to employers with 100 or more workers.

The rule will take effect Jan. 4 and require employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or test negative at least once a week.

U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh issued a statement Thursday pointing to a need for vaccination requirements as the pandemic continues.

“COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on workers, and we continue to see dangerous levels of cases,” Walsh said in the statement. “We must take action to implement this emergency temporary standard to contain the virus and protect people in the workplace against the grave danger of COVID-19. Many businesses understand the benefits of having their workers vaccinated against COVID-19, and we expect many will be pleased to see this OSHA rule go into effect.”

Kemp’s website said the states will argue that the rule exceeds the Department of Labor’s authority, does not comply with requirements for issuing what is known as an “emergency temporary standard” and conflicts with the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Challenges to OSHA actions can be filed in federal appeals courts, rather than through the typical process of filing in district courts.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals hears cases from Florida, Georgia and Alabama.