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Indiana plans to challenge federal vaccination requirements for employers

Justin Hicks/IPB News

Gov. Eric Holcomb is directing state agencies to find a way to legally challenge new federal regulations requiring workplace vaccinations.

It would have employers with 100 or more workers require COVID-19 vaccinations or weekly testing and masking. Employers must also supply appropriate time off and recovery time if workers feel temporary side effects from vaccination.  If employers don't comply, they could face penalties of nearly $14,000 per violation or even up to $137,000 if they willingly disobey or have multiple violations.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration rule won't be officially published until Friday, but a draft was made public on Thursday.

While Indiana’s OSHA office operates as a somewhat-independent “state plan,” the guidance says it must implement the vaccine-or-test requirements by early December. Being a state plan, the vaccination requirements would also apply to public sector employees, such as local and state government workers and public school educators and staff.

The federal rule says it preempts any state or local laws that limit vaccination, testing or masking in the workplace.

In a statement, Holcomb says he supports vaccines, but the rule is an “overreach” of the federal government and will have “harmful, unintended consequences” to supply chains and the workforce. Therefore, he’s telling Attorney General Todd Rokita and Indiana Department of Labor to prepare a lawsuit.

Rokita is expected to announce plans to file a lawsuit Thursday afternoon.

As the rule is technically not finalized, anyone can publicly comment on it for 30 days once it’s published in the federal register.

Contact reporter Justin at or follow him on Twitter at @Hicks_JustinM.

Justin Hicks has joined the reporting team for Indiana Public Broadcasting News (IPB News) through funding made available by (IPBS) Indiana Public Broadcasting Stations. Justin will be based out of WVPE in his new role as a Workforce Development Reporter for IPB News. Justin comes to Indiana by way of New York. He has a Master's Degree from the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University. He previously earned a Bachelor of Music Degree from Appalachian State University where he played trumpet. He first learned about Elkhart, Indiana, because of the stamp on his brass instrument indicating where it was produced.