On December 7th, 2021, a federal judge for the U.S. District Court in Southern Georgia blocked the federal contractor vaccine mandate nationwide. Previously, a U.S. District Court in Kentucky blocked the vaccine mandate, as it related to covered contracts, in only three states: Ohio, Tennessee, and Kentucky. However, the involvement of the nationwide trade association, Associated Builders and Contractors Inc., during this case may have had bearing on Georgia’s decision. Earlier, President Joseph R. Biden’s Safer Federal Workforce Task Force issued FAQs on COVID-19 guidance for federal contractors.

Background of the Federal Contractor Vaccine Mandate

On September 9th, 2021, President Joseph R. Biden signed Executive Order (EO) 14042 into law. Explicitly, EO 14042 requires agencies to include a clause in new contracts, options, and extensions requiring COVID-19 vaccination compliance. Basically, it requires almost all employees that perform services under a covered contract to a federal entity to be vaccinated. The original deadline for “full vaccination” was December 8. Subsequently, the deadline for the last dose was extended to January 4, with full vaccination occurring on January 18.

However, on November 30th, 2021, a federal judge issued an injunction preventing the enforcement of the vaccine mandate in Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee. Indeed, the ruling stated that the EO overstepped the president’s authority. Similar litigation had remained pending in:

  • Arizona,
  • Florida,
  • Georgia,
  • Missouri,
  • Oklahoma, and
  • Texas.

The Georgia U.S. District Court’s Ruling

Likewise, a federal judge in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia (Court) issued a preliminary injunction on the federal contractor vaccine mandate. Plaintiffs comprised of Georgia, Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, South Carolina, Utah, and West Virginia (Plaintiffs). In addition, the trade association, Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc., filed a Motion to Intervene in the action. Markedly, the Court agreed with the Plaintiffs’ claim that President Biden “exceeded the authorization given to him by Congress through the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act when issuing Executive Order 14042.”

In conclusion, the Court granted the Plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction of the federal contractor vaccine mandate. According to the Court’s order, “…Defendants are ENJOINED, during the pendency of this action or until further order of this Court, from enforcing the vaccine mandate for federal contractors and subcontractors in all covered contracts in any state or territory of the United States of America.” Presently, this decision does not constitute a permanent ban. Rather, the vaccine mandate may expect further litigation and new developments as the case progresses.