As we previously blogged, a federal court in Texas recently issued a temporary restraining order halting the enforcement of United Airlines’ vaccine mandate. The Judge was clear “the Court [was] not currently ruling on the merits of the parties’ arguments.” Rather, the Judge sought to maintain the status quo pending resolution of the motion for preliminary injunction, and he gave no indication that he intended to ultimately grant the motion for preliminary injunction. As expected, the temporary restraining order expired on Monday, and the Judge opted not to extend the injunction against enforcement of United’s vaccine policy. The Judge wrote, “it is not for the Court to decide if United’s vaccine mandate is bad policy. Rather, it is the Court’s role to determine if Plaintiffs carried their burden to obtain a preliminary injunction.” In determining that the Plaintiffs failed to meet this burden, the Judge wrote that they failed to identify an irreparable injury they would suffer in the absence of an injunction. Interestingly, although the Court declined to grant the Plaintiffs’ requested preliminary injunction, the Judge wrote, “without ruling on the likelihood of success, that Plaintiffs’ arguments appear compelling and convincing at this stage.”
In related news, while United’s vaccine mandate is allowed to go forward for now, President Biden’s mandate for large employers has been put on hold by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Just as with the United policy, Biden’s mandate has only been temporarily put on hold because the Plaintiffs have alleged “’grave statutory and constitutional issues” with the mandate. The 5th Circuit has not ruled on the merits of the challenge to the federal vaccine mandate. This temporary halt only applies to employers in the 5th Circuit (i.e., not Maryland, Virginia, and DC), and employers who wish to voluntarily implement their own vaccine mandates are free to do so.