A three-judge panel, on Thursday, denied a lawsuit brought by the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), a coalition of labor unions, to enforce emergency safety standards for essential workers.
The suit, filed on May 18, asked for a writ of mandamus from the court to compel the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to institute an emergency temporary standard (ETS) in light of the risks to workers posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The suit contends that Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia has refused to institute heightened safety standards despite a clear need to do so. The AFL-CIO also accused OSHA of “abdicat[ing its] statutory responsibility” because the “requirements for issuance of an ETS undeniably are satisfied” by the current conditions.
The court, however, ruled that OSHA’s determination “not to issue an ETS is entitled to considerable deference” and that the agency “reasonably determined that an ETS is not necessary at this time.”