Should retailers stick to vaccine mandates and change face mask rules?
Companies with 100 or more employees have choices to make in the wake of last week’s ruling by the Supreme Court that overturned a federal government mandate to require workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo regular testing for the virus. Some, such as Carhartt, are choosing to stick with their plans to require vaccinations or testing while others, including Starbucks, are not.
The workwear brand made news with its plan to require workers to get vaccinated. The Washington Post reports that Carhartt CEO Mark Valade sent an email last week to employees to explain the company’s position.
“We put workplace safety at the very top of our priority list and the Supreme Court’s recent ruling doesn’t impact that core value,” Mr. Valade wrote. “We, and the medical community, continue to believe vaccines are necessary to ensure a safe working environment for every associate and even perhaps their households.”
Carhartt’s decision is being celebrated in some quarters and criticized in others. Some critics are calling for the company to either rescind its policy or face a boycott. The company, to this point, has remained steadfast in its position that vaccinations are critical to protecting its workforce and business interests.
The workwear brand is not alone in requiring vaccinations for employees. Some, such as Walmart, have required corporate workers to get vaccinated but not mandating the same for the rest of their workforce, reports Footwear News. Other retailers, including Macy’s and TJX, still require employees to be vaccinated.
Starbucks’ employees learned this week that they would no longer be required to be vaccinated or undergo testing as a term of employment. A memo sent on Tuesday to workers from COO John Culver said that the company supports “the spirit and intent of the mandate” but would “comply” with the court’s ruling.
The coffee giant has made a change to its mask policy with a requirement that workers now wear N95, KN95 or KF94 face coverings, based on guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cloth masks, which have proven ineffective against the Omicron variant, will no longer be allowed by the company, according to Associated Press and CNBC reports.
Starbucks has also expanded its isolation policy to provide workers with paid time off if they have been exposed to individuals testing positive for COVID-19.
- SCOTUS strikes down OSHA’s COVID vaccine/testing mandate – RetailWire
- Carhartt said vaccination remains mandatory for employees. A conservative backlash followed. – The Washington Post
- These Retail Companies Are Requiring Vaccinations for Employees — And Some Are Firing Those Who Do Not Comply – Footwear News
- Starbucks nixes vaccine mandate – The Associated Press/The Seattle Times
- Starbucks pauses plan to require vaccination or weekly testing after Supreme Court ruling – CNBC
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Should retailers require employees to either be vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo regular testing? Should retailers mandate that employees wear N95, KN95 or KF94 due to the high transmissibility of the Omicron variant?