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Judge denies bid to halt California COVID-19 standard

Posted On: Feb. 26, 2021 1:22 PM CST


A San Francisco Superior Court Judge on Thursday denied a request for a preliminary injunction halting the enforcement of California’s COVID-19 standards on businesses.

In National Retail Federation v. California Department of Industrial Relations, Judge Ethan Schulman ruled that the NRF failed to show that the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board had the authority to issue a COVID-19 emergency temporary standard.

On Nov. 30, 2020, the California Office of Administrative Law approved an ETS that included such requirements as mandating that employers create a COVID-19 prevention program, provide coronavirus testing and continue to pay benefits for workers who have tested positive and/or are under quarantine.

The NRF filed a complaint seeking an injunction on the ETS, arguing that the emergency adoption of the standard was not supported by substantial evidence and that the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health did not have the authority to enforce the standard.

The judge disagreed, holding that the standards board “properly found that the COVID-19 pandemic constitutes an emergency” and that prior guidance was “not sufficient to address” the risk of occupational spread.

Judge Schulman also dismissed the argument that Cal/OSHA lacked the authority to enforce the ETS, and held that if he granted the injunction, “numerous workers in California would suffer severe and irreparable harm …”

More insurance and workers compensation news on the coronavirus crisis here.