BST Holdings, LLC v. OSHA

BST Holdings, LLC v. OSHA

Private Sector Businesses Shouldn’t be Forced to Vaccinate and Test their Employees


We won at the Supreme Court! Read the opinion.

The Story

Brandon Trosclair is a proud Louisiana business owner – a second-generation grocer that employs nearly 500 people with 15 grocery stores across Louisiana and Mississippi. His stores are cornerstones of our communities. They employ our neighbors and provide an important service to each one of us. But now, they’re being threatened by an illegal overreach by the Biden administration.

In September 2021, President Biden announced that the federal government would mandate COVID-19 vaccines for all Americans who work for private companies with 100 or more employees. Because the states, not the federal government, have authority over public health, the Biden Administration is having Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) impose the mandate under the guise of workplace safety. It plans to avoid the normal notice-and-comment procedures by styling the mandate as a emergency temporary standard (ETS).

When the news of the Biden vaccine mandate came out, Brandon was immediately concerned for the rights of his employees. He said, “Over the past 20 months, my employees have showed up to work and served their communities in the face of COVID and hurricanes. Now I’m being told by the government to insert myself into their private health decisions? That’s wrong and I won’t stand for it. It is not the government’s place to tell me how to operate my stores or to force me to interfere in the private medical decisions of my employees.”

The OSHA vaccine mandate would place businesses across the country in a difficult position: enforce the mandate or fire your employees. Brandon simply saw this as wrong and felt it was his duty to challenge this unjust mandate to help people across the country keep their doors open and Americans employed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Pelican Institute, with the help of the Liberty Justice Center, challenged the mandate on grounds that it exceeded OSHA’s statutory authority under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. First, OSHA’s authority is limited to workplace-related hazards, but the risk of COVID-19 infection is a society-wide danger. Second, OSHA cannot show that COVID-19 is a grave danger for all employers with 100 or more employees because only a few months before, it concluded that COVID-19 was only a grave danger to healthcare employers. Additionally, whether COVID is a grave danger in a workplace depends on individual employees’ age and health, not how many co-workers they have. Third, because the mandate applies regardless of individual employee’s risk and difference in workplace conditions, it is not narrowly tailored as emergency standards are required to be. Finally, OSHA’s statutory authority to protect employees from “new hazards” must be read to exclude COVID in light of the preceding language: “substances or agents determined to be toxic or physically harmful.” Otherwise, the agency could promulgate any regulation that would have the arguable effect of preventing the spread of a communicable disease.

The Timeline

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