Indiana to file lawsuit challenging federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate


INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana will challenge the federal vaccine mandate announced on Thursday.

Attorney General Todd Rokita held a press conference Thursday afternoon announcing that the state will file a lawsuit challenging the mandate.

This press conference came after Holcomb released a statement saying he has directed the Indiana Department of Labor and Rokita to work together on a lawsuit challenging the mandate.

Both Holcomb and Rokita described the federal mandate as an “overreach.” Holcomb added that he supports use of the vaccine but believes the “unprecedented” federal approach would have unintended consequences on workers and the supply chain.

Rokita also claimed the mandate would only exacerbate issues employers are having staffing their workforce. In addition, he added argued because the virus is with us in all areas of life, not just at work, the mandate is a misuse of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which is intended to ensure employees have safe worker conditions.

“We were ready. Starting September 9th we started working on our briefing, we started working on our filing, we started working on our legal strategy,” said Rokita.

The federal policy announced Thursday would affect tens of millions of Americans who work at companies with 100 or more employees. It stipulates that they be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Jan. 4 or get tested for the virus weekly.

OSHA said companies that fail to comply could face penalties of nearly $14,000 per violation. The new requirements will apply to about 84 million workers at medium and large businesses.

Tougher rules will apply to another 17 million people who work in nursing homes, hospitals and other facilities that receive money from Medicare and Medicaid. Those workers will not have an option for testing and will need to be vaccinated.

It was unclear how OSHA planned to enforce the rules. A senior administration official said the agency would target companies if it gets complaints.

Here’s the governor’s statement:

I direct the Indiana Department of Labor to work with the Attorney General on a lawsuit challenging the federal government regarding the OSHA ETS. This is an overreach of the government’s role in serving and protecting Hoosiers. While I agree that the vaccine is the tool that will best protect against COVID-19, this federal government approach is unprecedented and will bring about harmful, unintended consequences in the supply chain and the workforce.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report

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