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Brenda Baumgart is practice group leader for Stoel Rives’ Labor & Employment group and devotes her practice to assisting companies of all sizes navigate the complexities of employment and labor laws. She partners with clients to provide day-to-day advice and compliance counseling, assisting them with finding practical solutions while minimizing litigation risk. Her litigation and trial work includes defending employers in federal and state courts in all areas of employment law (including single plaintiff cases and class/collective actions), handling appeals exclusively on matters of labor and employment law before appellate courts, including the Oregon Court of Appeals, the Oregon Supreme Court, the Ninth Circuit, the Eighth Circuit, and the Fifth Circuit, and administrative proceedings before various governmental agencies. Brenda also has a strong traditional labor practice and represents clients in labor arbitrations and matters before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). She conducts internal workplace investigations for private and public sector clients.

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On May 10, 2023, the Oregon Health Authority (“OHA”) announced that, effective May 11, it is suspending the statewide rule requiring that health care workers be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 unless they have an approved medical or religious exception. The news coincides with the end of the federal public health emergency on May 11, along with the anticipated end of the federal COVID-19 vaccination mandate for health care facilities certified by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”).

The OHA stated that immediate suspension of the rule is necessary “to align with the end of the federal public health emergency and elimination of other COVID-19-related control measures, and because there is no longer a significant public health need for this rule.”

The OHA also stated:

The rationale for the rule when it was adopted was that COVID-19 was likely to be transmitted in these congregate settings, placing vulnerable persons at risk. [The Oregon mandate] is now being suspended, because immunity from the primary series is known to wane over time, such that 2 booster vaccinations have since been recommended for most persons. Moreover, the virus that causes COVID-19 has mutated such that the original series provides little longer-term protection against infection by currently circulating strains. Finally, at this point most people have been infected by the virus (94% by one estimate), giving survivors a degree of immunity at least equivalent to that provided by the original vaccination series for some period of time.Continue Reading Oregon Health Authority Suspends COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate for Health Care Workers