Vaccine Mandate

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Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich is suing President Biden and other federal officials over their unconstitutional COVID-19 vaccine mandates. General Brnovich filed the first lawsuit in the country challenging the requirements for federal employees and contractors. Additionally, Arizona is co-leading a coalition of states to stop the Biden Administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for private business with 100 or more employees.

Below you will find more information on the lawsuits as well as additional actions the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) is taking to protect the liberties of Arizonans.


Brnovich v. Biden (Federal Employees & Contractors)

General Brnovich is suing President Biden and other federal officials in his administration over their unconstitutional COVID-19 vaccine mandates. The lawsuit, filed in September, argues Biden’s mandates are some of the greatest infringements upon individual liberties, principles of federalism, and separation of powers ever attempted by an American President.

In late October, General Brnovich expanded his lawsuit, adding claims against the federal contractor and federal employee requirements. General Brnovich is asking for a temporary restraining order, and a nationwide injunction as soon as possible to stop these mandates.

A court hearing was held on November 10, 2021.

Because of President Biden’s last-minute change to his vaccine mandate guidance on the morning of the court hearing (November 10th), the AGO could not get an immediate ruling on its complaint. General Brnovich remains encouraged by the court’s careful consideration of his concerns and appreciates the opportunity to supplement his filing. Arizona’s litigation will move forward.

Filings

Multistate Coalition v. Biden (OSHA Rules)

General Brnovich is co-leading a coalition of 11 states in a lawsuit against the Biden Administration and federal officials to stop their COVID-19 vaccine mandate on private employers. The rules promulgated by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires private employers with 100 or more employees to mandate their employees get vaccinated or implement weekly testing and mask requirements. Non-compliant businesses would face steep fines.

On November 10th, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals expedited the coalition's lawsuit.

OSHA has suspended enforcement of COVID-19 vaccine mandate for private employers with 100 or more employees as litigation is ongoing.

Arizona joined with other attorneys general and Iowa asking the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to take the case en banc.

Filings

Multistate v. HHS (CMS vaccine mandate)

General Brnovich is co-leading a coalition of 12 states in a lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services and other federal officials to stop their COVID-19 vaccine mandate on health care workers. The rules, which were published by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, require all eligible staff working at a facility that participates in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, regardless of clinical responsibility or patient contact, get the COVID-19 vaccination.

Religious and Disability Exemptions for Employees

The AGO cannot provide private legal advice to constituents. However, the AGO can refer Arizonans to an AGO legal opinion issued in August 2021 regarding COVID-19 vaccine mandates under existing state and federal laws. The AGO Opinion found there is no one-size-fits-all answer and that government and private businesses have varying legal requirements.

Under federal and state law, employers who mandate vaccinations must provide reasonable accommodations to employees who cannot obtain the COVID-19 vaccine due to a disability or a sincerely-held religious belief. In most cases, this will require employers to accommodate such employees by using the same measures utilized by employers for approximately the last seventeen months of the pandemic (e.g., masking, spacing, teleworking, etc.).

Religious Exemptions

With respect to what qualifies as a religious belief, federal law broadly "define[s] religious practices to include moral or ethical beliefs as to what is right and wrong which are sincerely-held with the strength of traditional religious views," (29 C.F.R. § 1605.1). An employer's inquiry into the sincerity of an employee's sincerely-held religious belief should be narrowly tailored and no more intrusive than necessary.

A sincerely-held religious belief about receiving a COVID-19 vaccine includes a moral or ethical belief against receiving a COVID-19 vaccination that has the strength of a traditional religious view. And the sincerity of that belief should be judged based on the employee's words and conduct at the time the conflict about the COVID-19 vaccine arises and not based on prior words or conduct, particularly related to the employee's prior views or conduct about non-EUA vaccinations. If the employee holds a sincerely-held religious belief, then potential accommodations, again, may include those that businesses have already been utilizing during the COVID-19 pandemic, including teleworking, masking, social distancing, and/or staggered work schedules.

File Civil Rights Complaint

Individuals who believe they are victims of discrimination may submit a Civil Rights Complaint Intake Questionnaire.

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