COVID vaccine mandate lawsuits: 24 states challenge Biden administration's mandate for private businesses

OSHA announced a new vaccine rule Thursday threatening a $14,000 fine per violation for businesses who do not comply

At least 24 Republican-led states have already taken action against President Biden's new COVID-19 vaccine mandate for private businesses with more than 100 employees.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced the new vaccine rule Thursday that will require certain U.S. employers to ensure all their workers are either fully vaccinated by Jan. 4 or subject to weekly testing and mask-wearing.

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt led an 11-state coalition in filing a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit on Friday morning.

"The federal government should not be forcing private employers to require their employees to get vaccinated or foot the cost to test those employees weekly," Schmitt said in a Friday statement. "Local business owners have told me that the vaccine mandate would decimate their businesses, including some that have been around for decades, and they’re certainly not alone – there are thousands of businesses in Missouri alone that could be negatively affected by this mandate. That’s why I’m taking Joe Biden and his administration to court – to protect personal freedoms, preserve Missouri businesses, and push back on bureaucratic tyrants who simply want power and control."

Eric Schmitt, Missouri attorney general, speaks during a news conference outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, Sept. 9, 2019. A group of 50 attorneys general opened a broad investigation into whether advertising practices of Alphabet Inc.'s Google violate antitrust laws. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Eric Schmitt, Missouri attorney general, speaks during a news conference outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, Sept. 9, 2019. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Attorneys general from Arizona, Montana, Nebraska, Arkansas, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Alaska, New Hampshire and Wyoming joined Schmitt in filing the complaint, which alleges that the vaccine mandate "is unconstitutional, unlawful, and unwise."


"The federal government lacks constitutional authority under its enumerated powers to issue this mandate, and its attempt to do so unconstitutionally infringes on the States’ powers expressly reserved by the Tenth Amendment," it reads. "OSHA also lacks statutory authority to issue this mandate, which it shoe-horned into statutes that govern workplace safety, and which were never intended to federalize public-health policy."

The lawsuit also notes that the White House in July stated that requiring vaccinations is "not the role of the federal government" before reversing its position in September.


The White House said on Friday that millions of federal contractors must be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Dec. 8 and that the administration will add clauses to future government contracts mandating inoculations. (Getty Images)

Attorneys general from other states including Mississippi, Louisiana, Indiana, Kentucky, Idaho, Kansas, Ohio, Oklahoma and Tennessee filed lawsuits against the president's mandate on Friday. On Thursday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and state Attorney General Ashley Moody also sued the Biden administration. Earlier this week and last week, Alabama, Georgia and Texas submitted separate but similar legal challenges.

"We started with 15 days to slow the spread and now it’s get jabbed or lose your job," DeSantis, whose decisions regarding COVID-19-related issues have stood in stark contrast to the president's, said in a Thursday statement. "We’re supposed to be a government of laws, not a government of men. This OSHA rule is 500 pages of a government of bureaucracy, a government that is being run by executive edict, not a government bound by constitutional constraints. The State of Florida will immediately challenge the OSHA rule in court because it’s inconsistent with the Constitution and not legally authorized through Congressional statutes."

The rule is set to impact roughly 84 million employees; 70% of all U.S. adults are fully vaccinated, according to the administration. 

 Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis speaks at a press conference at the Eau Gallie High School aviation hangar. (Photo by Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Senior administration officials have said OSHA will assist employers in developing their vaccine and testing standards.

The rule also requires that employers provide paid time for employees to get vaccinated and mandates that all unvaccinated employees wear a face mask in the workplace.

Businesses that fail to comply could face fines reaching as much as $14,000 per violation, with the potential for multiple citations. 

"While I would have much preferred that requirements not become necessary, too many people remain unvaccinated for us to get out of this pandemic for good," Biden said in a Thursday statement. "So I instituted requirements – and they are working. They protect our workers and have helped us reduce the number of unvaccinated Americans over the age of 12 from approximately 100 million in late July when I began requirements to just about 60 million today."

The U.S. has surpassed 750,000 COVID-19 deaths.

Fox News' Brooke Singman contributed to this report.