On Jan. 13, the Supreme Court struck down President Biden’s sweeping vaccine-or-test mandate for employees of large businesses with 100 or more workers. The mandate would have required 84 million Americans to get vaccinated.
According to guidance from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Federal EEO laws do
Even so, many of the biggest companies in America took it upon themselves to close their payrolls to the unvaccinated — months before the Supreme Court said they didn’t have to, in some cases.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai sent a memo to employees in July that updated the company’s policy. It stated that Google was requiring anyone coming to work on company campuses had to be vaccinated. The policy was rolled out in the U.S. throughout the summer and was expanded to other regions into the fall. The company extended its global voluntary work-from-home policy, but that extension expired on Oct. 18.
By year’s end, the company had doubled down. CNBC reported in December that Google had announced a new policy, as many employees still remained unprotected with 2022 approaching. The company took an impatient tone in telling its workers that those who remained unvaccinated by Jan. 18 would be put on paid administrative leave for 30 days, then unpaid leave. Any remaining holdouts are to be terminated after that grace period ends this spring.
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Another Silicon Valley giant announced its own mandatory vaccination policy in late July right on the heels of Google, according to CNN.
“As our offices reopen, we will be requiring anyone coming to work at any of our U.S. campuses to be vaccinated,” Lori Goler, Facebook’s VP of people said in a statement to CNN. “We will have a process for those who cannot be vaccinated for medical or other reasons and will be evaluating our approach in other regions as the situation evolves,” she added.
Also like Google, Facebook’s parent company Meta doubled down on its own directive in December — although the social media giant had a different goal in mind. The Wall Street Journal reported at the end of 2021 that Facebook was delaying the full reopening of its offices until March to give employees time to get their booster shots — which the company also made mandatory.
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As of Aug. 2, all employees working in Lyft’s offices are required to be vaccinated, CNN reported, citing an email that Lyft CEO Logan Green sent to employees.
The email also noted that, in addition, That timeline, however, wasn’t in the cards. While Lyft did fully open its offices in February as planned, the space is meant only for employees who want to return voluntarily. On-site work will now remain optional all year long until 2023, at least, according to Bloomberg. It’s important to note, however, that the mandate is for office workers only — neither Lyft nor Uber require their drivers to get vaccinated.
Netflix was the first major studio to implement a blanket policy mandating vaccinations for the casts of all of its U.S. productions, as well as those who come into contact with them on set.
In July, the new return-to-work protocols agreed upon by the Hollywood unions and major studios gave producers “the option to implement mandatory vaccination policies for casts and crew in Zone A (which consists of the actors and those who come in close proximity to them) on a production-by-production basis,” according to Deadline. Shortly after that announcement, Netflix expanded its vaccine mandate to include all of its office employees, as well as all visitors to its offices, according to Variety.
Union Square Hospitality Group
Danny Meyer, founder and CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group — which includes Shake Shack — told CNBC that the group will require indoor diners and drinkers at its restaurants to show they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19. The mandate also applies to current employees and new hires.
The group’s website has a statement that reads: “In an effort to keep our community safe, anyone five and older who wishes to dine indoors must show proof that they are fully vaccinated. Our teams are required to be fully vaccinated as well.”
“This is the most logical thing I’ve ever seen,” Meyer told CNBC. “I’m not a scientist, but I know how to read data and what I see is that this is a crisis of people who have not been vaccinated, and I feel strong responsibility, on our part as business leaders, to take care of our team and our guests, and that’s what we’re doing.”
On Nov. 15, American Express chairman and CEO Stephen J. Squeri released this statement: “As part of this ongoing commitment and in light of pending federal government mandates, starting this Thursday, November 18 and until further notice, we will require all colleagues to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to work in or visit any of our offices in the United States.”
The Amex chief went on to say that employees who weren’t vaccinated or who preferred not to share their vaccination status could apply to work remotely if their jobs were compatible.
On Oct. 28, The New York Times reported that Citigroup had become the first big U.S. bank to make vaccination mandatory for all its employees. By January 7, the company announced that it had reached 90% compliance, according to the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM). Just one week later on Jan. 14, compliance was at 99% — excluding branch workers who were given extra time to comply — and Citi was moving to terminate the last holdouts.
Most recently, Ford joined the list of industry giants that are requiring their employees to get the vaccine — but the mandate applies only to Ford’s 32,000 salaried employees. According to a CNBC report from Nov. 3, the ruling does not apply to factory workers, Ford Credit employees, or any of the 57,000 Ford employees who are represented by the United Auto Workers union (UAW).
Shortly after it announced the mandate, Ford pushed back the deadline to January. The automaker’s own press release said the reason for the delay was the large number of medical and religious exemption requests it received.
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Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy contributed to the reporting for this article.