November 4, 2021

Indiana plans to challenge federal vaccination requirements for employers


A demonstrator holds a sign at a rally outside the Indiana Statehouse in September opposing any COVID-19 vaccine requirements.  - (Justin Hicks/IPB News)

A demonstrator holds a sign at a rally outside the Indiana Statehouse in September opposing any COVID-19 vaccine requirements.

(Justin Hicks/IPB News)

Gov. Eric Holcomb is directing state agencies to find a way to legally challenge new federal regulations requiring workplace vaccinations.

It would have employers with 100 or more workers require COVID-19 vaccinations or weekly testing and masking. Employers must also supply appropriate time off and recovery time if workers feel temporary side effects from vaccination.  If employers don't comply, they could face penalties of nearly $14,000 per violation or even up to $137,000 if they willingly disobey or have multiple violations.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration rule won't be officially published until Friday, but a draft was made public on Thursday.

While Indiana’s OSHA office operates as a somewhat-independent “state plan,” the guidance says it must implement the vaccine-or-test requirements by early December. Being a state plan, the vaccination requirements would also apply to public sector employees, such as local and state government workers and public school educators and staff.

The federal rule says it preempts any state or local laws that limit vaccination, testing or masking in the workplace.

In a statement, Holcomb says he supports vaccines, but the rule is an “overreach” of the federal government and will have “harmful, unintended consequences” to supply chains and the workforce. Therefore, he’s telling Attorney General Todd Rokita and Indiana Department of Labor to prepare a lawsuit.

Rokita is expected to announce plans to file a lawsuit Thursday afternoon.

As the rule is technically not finalized, anyone can publicly comment on it for 30 days once it’s published in the federal register.

Contact reporter Justin at jhicks@wvpe.org or follow him on Twitter at @Hicks_JustinM.

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