KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 29): President Joe Biden’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate on companies employing 100 or more people could potentially bankrupt non-compliant companies, said Forbes.
In a report yesterday, the magazine said the increased fines on employers could run as high as US$70,000 for serious infractions, and US$700,000 for willful or repeated violations—almost three-quarters of a million dollars for each fine, far above the than the US$14,000 Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fine.
Forbes said the Biden Administration has already started implementing its vaccine mandate enforcement blueprint.
On Sept 25, Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s House quietly tucked an enforcement mechanism into their US$3.5 trillion “reconciliation” bill, passed it out of the Budget Committee, and sent it to the House floor.
Buried on page 168 of the House Democrats’ 2,465-page mega bill is a tenfold increase in fines for employers that “willfully,” “repeatedly,” or even seriously violate a section of labor law that deals with hazards, death, or serious physical harm to their employees.
The magazine said President Biden embraced an aggressive stance earlier this month when he challenged Republicans who are threatening lawsuits over what they decry as his federal overreach: “Have at it. … We’re playing for real here. This isn’t a game.”
The provision tucked in the House reconciliation budget bill (on page 168) that increases OSHA fines reads:
SEC. 21004. ADJUSTMENT OF CIVIL PENALTIES.
(a) OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ACT OF 1970.—Section 17 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (29 U.S.C. 666) is amended—
(1) in subsection (a)—
(A) by striking ‘‘US$70,000’’ and inserting ‘‘US$700,000’’; and
(B) by striking ‘‘US$5,000’’ and inserting ‘‘US$50,000’’;
(2) in subsection (b), by striking ‘‘US$7,000’’ and inserting ‘‘US$70,000’’; and
(3) in subsection (d), by striking ‘‘US$7,000’’ and inserting ‘‘US$70,000’’
That provision would change existing law relating to OSHA’s enforcement fines, the very same section of law whose fines OSHA referenced in its June Covid-19 healthcare worker rule and is likely to use again to enforce its forthcoming vaccine compliance rules.
The Existing Law
29 U.S.C.subsection 666 lays out OSHA enforcement fine levels. The 1970-enacted law reads:
29 U.S. Code subsection 666 – Civil and criminal penalties
(a) Willful or repeated violation Any employer who willfully or repeatedly violates the requirements of section 654 of this title, any standard, rule, or order promulgated pursuant to section 655 of this title, or regulations prescribed pursuant to this chapter may be assessed a civil penalty of not more than US$70,000 for each violation, but not less than US$5,000 for each willful violation
(b) Citation for serious violation Any employer who has received a citation for a serious violation of the requirements of section 654 of this title, of any standard, rule, or order promulgated pursuant to section 655 of this title, or of any regulations prescribed pursuant to this chapter, shall be assessed a civil penalty of up to $7,000 for each such violation.
Forbes said the crippling change described on page 168 of the Democrats’ bill isn’t a typo or a clerical error.
The magazine said it was inserted by design and, likely, with the hope that no one would notice before Democrats ram the bill through Congress.
If enacted, it could bankrupt a whole host of companies that do not believe they should have to comply with the Biden administration’s mandate or harbor the cost of intrusive, weekly tests.