Some Greater Cincinnati business owners are preparing to file lawsuits that challenge the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate. The president’s order will require businesses with 100 or more employees to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine or weekly testing.
Attorney Chris Wiest, who successfully led a parent group's suit against Gov. Andy Beshear's statewide school mask mandate, said one Northern Kentucky business and one in Cincinnati have already retained him to file on their behalf.
“Until there's a rule, I don’t think we can challenge it, so we're waiting for that,” Wiest said.
The Department of Labor must draft the exact policy, Wiest explained, before the local businesses file court documents arguing it violates any rights.
The president announced Thursday he wants businesses to require employees to be vaccinated or submit to weekly COVID-19 testing. Wiest expects the final policy to allow for medical and religious exemptions for workers.
However, he plans to argue for religious exemption for at least one business.
“The owner's got a religious problem with the vaccines, and you know, some people do because of their development and testing protocols,” said Wiest. “So, we will probably be asserting Religious Freedom Restoration Act claims.”
Many business leaders anticipate following the president’s order.
“We've been very compliant because we were, early on, designated as essential workers,” Freestore Foodbank president and CEO Kurt Reiber said.
He said the company does need to see the final policy the Occupational Safety and Health Administration comes up with before making a final decision.
“There's a need for clarity in all of the areas that the president talked about,” said Reiber. “I think getting advice and council from OSHA will be very helpful.”
Once the Department of Labor makes the mandate official, Wiest says, businesses will have 60 days to file a suit with the 6th Circuit Court in Cincinnati to try to avoid it.