Mixed response from businesses after SCOTUS ruling on vaccine mandates

While some companies warn that mandates would worsen the worker shortage, others say the surge in omicron cases makes protecting those workers an even bigger priority.

Virginia Giuffre, now 38, alleges that Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell trafficked her and forced her to have sex with Andrew, now 61, in the 1990s. She has repeatedly denied the allegations and that she ever knew Giuffre. , who was 17 years old at the time.

“It didn’t happen. I can tell you categorically that it never happened,” she told the BBC in 2019. “I don’t remember meeting this lady, none at all.”

If the case is not settled out of court or is otherwise dismissed, Andrew could be forced to testify in a high-profile trial that begins in the fall or winter.

“This is now about protecting the reputation of the royal family,” said the BBC’s royal correspondent, Nicholas Witchell. “This is likely to cause, and is already causing, considerable reputational damage – it is followed around the world.”

NBC News has reached out to Buckingham Palace and Andrew’s representatives for comment.

A source close to Andrew said earlier this week: “This is a marathon, not a sprint, and the Duke will continue to defend himself against these claims.”

As the queen’s second son who would likely never succeed to the throne, Andrew’s active social life led to the British tabloid press calling him “the prince of the party”.

But the Giuffre allegations and Andrew’s relationship with Epstein and Maxwell have become one of the most toxic royal crises in decades.

The prince gave an interview to the BBC in November 2019 and hoped it would clear his name, but it was widely seen as a car accident that invited more ridicule. Perhaps most notably, Andrew claimed that Giuffre’s memory of him sweating in a nightclub was not true because an “adrenaline overdose” during the Falklands War meant that he had lost the ability to perspire.

Ed Enoch, partner at the law firm of Enoch Tarver and Georgia state legislative director for SHRM, said administrative management of employee-requested exemptions would have been another burden smaller firms would have struggled to carry.

“Part of what we’ve been running into all along is it opens up the issue of religious and medical exemptions and having to process those requests. Particularly, the religious exemption is so difficult to administer,” he said. “Most HR folks are happy trying to continue to encourage, using the carrot rather than the stick.”

If scrapping the mandate is viewed as a win by smaller companies, though, Michael C. Schmidt, office managing partner and vice chair of the labor and employment department at the law firm of Cozen O’Connor, said that big businesses with footprints that span both red and blue states stand to lose.

“The bad news, from a practical standpoint, is now instead of having one uniform national policy and requirement on the issue, you’re now going back to this patchwork of state laws that are really all over the place… the multi-jurisdictional companies are dealing with this now.”

And small business owners hoping that a federal mandate would help to turn the tide of soaring Covid cases and get them back to “business as usual” said they were just plain frustrated.

“It impacts me as a small business owner and as part of a community and society because it is the continued politicization of apolitical decisions that should be based on science,” Corrine Hendrickson, owner of a child care business in Wisconsin, told NBC News via email.

“Spread is happening in the workplace, those colleagues are getting sick, missing work, being hospitalized,” she said. “Congress created OSHA,” she said of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the regulatory agency tasked with implementing any such mandate. “OSHA needs to be able to do their job as an oversight agency.”

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