Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Audrey Anderson discussed the predicament many colleges and universities are currently facing related to conflicting vaccine requirements under federal and state laws. In September, President Biden issued an executive order calling for new guidance requiring employees at federal contractors to be fully vaccinated and also directed OSHA to issue guidance directing large employers to require their employees to be vaccinated or undergo weekly testing. Many colleges receive federal contracts and therefore fall under this new executive order. However, colleges and universities that are in states that have banned vaccine mandates are faced with conflicting guidelines and question which authority to follow.

“Generally, federal rules preempt state law, as long as the federal government operates within its authority,” Audrey outlined for Higher Ed Dive. “While colleges must weigh state law in these cases, they will be reluctant to jeopardize their federal contracts, which often total millions of dollars,” Audrey said. “Those who don’t follow the mandate risk the government not wanting to contract with them anymore.”

Audrey went on to add about the campuses in conflicting states, “It’s putting them in the middle, when they’re already trying to keep their campuses safe from COVID.”

The full article, “With Biden Mandates Looming, What Can Colleges Do in States that Limit Vaccine Requirements?” was published by Higher Ed Dive on October 28 and is available online.