The Bulletin Board

State joins lawsuit challenging private employer mandate

By: - November 5, 2021 1:48 pm

It’s official. 

Attorney General John Formella announced Friday that New Hampshire has joined 10 other states and several private businesses, religious schools, and organizations in a lawsuit challenging the new federal vaccine mandate on large private employers. Formella indicated he’d do so late last month, when he joined a similar lawsuit challenging the vaccine mandate for federal contractors. 

Attorney General John Formella

Formella’s announcement comes a day after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced a new vaccine rule requiring employers with more than 100 workers to ensure by Jan. 4 that their employees are fully vaccinated or test negative for COVID-19 weekly and wear a mask at work. 

Workers must get paid time off to get vaccinated and sick leave to recover from any side effects. The OSHA rule does not require employers to pay for the testing; nor does it exempt them from other laws or collective bargaining units that do put the cost on them.

“As I have said previously, the available COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and every eligible person in New Hampshire is encouraged to get a COVID-19 vaccine,” Formella said in a statement Friday. “However, the new (requirement) issued by OSHA is illegal and would impose significant burdens on New Hampshire businesses and their employees. We are therefore obligated to take action to protect the interests of our state’s citizens and businesses.”

Gov. Chris Sununu issued a statement supporting Formella’s decision. 

“I have been clear about the importance of the COVID vaccines as they are safe, effective, and the most valuable and the most valuable tool we have to protect ourselves, our family, and our community,” he said. “But as the head of state government, I recognize the responsibility in knowing the limitations of government. What an individual chooses to do is between themselves, their family, and their doctor – not the government, which is why I fully support the Attorney General’s decision to sign on to this lawsuit.”

The lawsuit reiterates the arguments within the lawsuit challenging the vaccine mandate on federal contractors, namely that state’s alone are authorized to mandate vaccines and a mandate will exacerbate the existing workforce shortage.

“This mandate is unconstitutional, unlawful, and unwise, the lawsuit said. It argued further that the mandate will cause injuries and hardship to working families, inflict economic disruption and staffing shortages on the states and private employers, and impose even greater strains on struggling labor markets and supply chains.”

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Annmarie Timmins
Annmarie Timmins

Senior reporter Annmarie Timmins is a New Hampshire native who covered state government, courts, and social justice issues for the Concord Monitor for 25 years. During her time with the Monitor, she won a Nieman Fellowship to study journalism and mental health courts at Harvard for a year. She has taught journalism at the University of New Hampshire and writing at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications. Email: [email protected]