Arkansas AG plans to take legal action over federal vaccine mandate

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced Thursday that her office plans to file a lawsuit over the federal vaccine mandate.

The Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released details about the vaccine requirement Thursday. Companies with 100 or more employees will have to ensure all of its workers are fully vaccinated by Jan. 4.

Rutledge said the federal government does not have the authority to enforce the vaccine requirement on companies.

“My legal team and I have determined that, yes, the OSHA vaccine mandate is illegal,” Rutledge said. “It exceeds federal authority, OSHA statutory authority, its arbitrary, capricious and violation of the rule of law.”

Greg Northen, attorney with Cross, Gunter, Witherspoon & Galchus, said most lawsuits filed over the mandate will target whether or not the pandemic constitutes an emergency that the federal government can then act upon.

“There is an emergency public health crisis and there is authority under the executive branch to address national concerns such as public health,” Northen said. “Obviously, opinions differ as to whether we’re actually in an emergency.”

Rutledge plans to file the lawsuit as soon as the final draft of OSHA’s vaccine mandate is released.

The University of Arkansas System released the following statement in regard to the vaccine requirements:

We are in the process of reviewing the executive order and guidance, and estimating the potential impact on our campuses and employees. We have initially estimated that roughly $130 million in current federal contracts may be subject to the requirements. Determining what contracts and employees are impacted will need to be considered on a contract-by-contract basis as we receive additional information from the federal agencies involved. As we continue our analysis of the federal requirements – along with the related laws recently passed by the state legislature – we will be advising our campuses about how to approach each contract moving forward. While we are aware that universities in other states have issued vaccination mandates for all employees as a result of the order, we must consider how we proceed in light of the circumstances that are unique to Arkansas.”

Nate Hinkel, Director of Communications

The UA-Fayetteville Education Association president, Bret Schulte, told KNWA/FOX 24 that the association expects the University of Arkansas to fully comply with the federal rules.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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