New Federal Vaccination Rules for Millions of Workers

Some states already vow to fight the rules in court

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New federal vaccination rules for private firms with 100 or more workers provide employees with two options, get vaccinated or provide weekly negative test results at their expense.

Enforcement of the new rules by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) begins on Jan. 4, 2022.

ActiveOps is a technology firm in Irving that provides solutions and advice to clients but also manages more than 100 employees of its own.

“This is an added level of complexity that businesses didn't have to deal with a couple of years ago,” CEO Spencer O’Leary said.

He’ll be responsible for gathering confidential vaccination information from employees or proof of their negative test results.

But O’Leary said the new rules are also helpful.

“I think this supplies one side of clarity that everybody needed, to know the right side and the wrong side of the law. and we can start to implement the strategies and get on with our business,” he said.

Southwest Airlines is one employer that faced loud protest from employees who were opposed to that company’s vaccine policy that was to coincide with an earlier December deadline for federal contractors to comply with vaccine orders.

Now the federal government says the same Jan. 4 enforcement date for the new option of testing instead of shots will apply to all.

American Airlines released a letter to employees with more information on the regulations, saying they were also extending the deadline until Jan. 4, 2022.

Dallas Attorney Naim Sakhia has dealt with other cases involving OSHA.

“So essentially, that provides some cover for employers, to make sure they are able to communicate to employees, you have two choices. And this is not from the employer, it's coming from the federal government,” he said.

Sakhia said most compliance will be mostly voluntary.

“They will be basically relying on employee or employer complaints. Or if they are out there at the employer’s premises doing inspection for some unrelated matter,” he said.

O’Leary said he expects most businesses large and small will self-police.

“And we can all decide on how we move on from this and get back into 2022 with an efficient and productive workforce,” O’Leary said.

But, the vaccine plan touched off protest in some places with leaders in several Republican-controlled states announcing plans to fight the rules in court.

Top White House Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci defended the plan at a hearing on Capitol Hill.

"We know that vaccines absolutely save lives and we know that mandates work," he said.

The White House said more than 3,500 businesses, hospitals, schools and local governments already have vaccine mandates in place.

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