More Big Companies Are Dropping Vaccine Requirement For Workers

As some of the biggest U.S. employers lift mask mandates for vaccinated workers, other companies are going even further and discarding requirements that employees get their COVID-19 shots.

Germany’s Adidas told its U.S. workers on Monday that it would no longer require they get vaccinated against the virus.

“Though no longer required, we strongly encourage all employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and will continue to require all employees in the U.S. to submit their vaccination status by March 1,” an Adidas spokesperson told CBS MoneyWatch in an email.

In confirming its new policy, Europe’s largest sporting goods manufacturer cited a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that blocked the Biden administration’s vaccine-or-test rule for companies with at least 100 workers. The court’s decision last month led the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration to withdraw its emergency standard setting the policy.

The move by Adidas comes a month after Starbucks said it would no longer require its U.S. workers be inoculatetd against COVID-19. The Seattle coffee giant also pointed to the high court’s ruling in explaining why it ended a two-week-old policy requiring workers to get vaccinated by February 9 or face weekly tests.

Intel has paused its requirement that workers get vaccinated or face unpaid leave starting in April.

“Due to court decisions last month, Intel currently is not subject to a vaccine mandate or weekly testing requirements for unvaccinated employees — and it is not requiring either for its employees at the moment,” a spokesperson for the chipmaker said in an email.

The decision by companies to ease their COVID-19 rules comes amid a drop in infections around the U.S. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of cases has fallen from a peak of nearly 800,000 on average in mid-January to roughly 134,000.

Although many businesses implemented COVID-19 protocols during the pandemic, fewer chose to require employees to get vaccinated. A handful of companies have stuck with vaccine mandates even without cover from the federal government, including Tyson Foods and United Airlines. Others are taking a harder line, with Nike firing at least one long-time worker for failing to let a third-party verify his vaccination status, according to CBS Austin.

In Portland, Oregon, a Columbia Sportswear executive told a CBS affiliate the company was disappointed by the Supreme Court ruling, but that it remains committed to its vaccine mandate.

“It certainly would have made it easier if we think that we’re all in this together and working under the same rules,” Richelle Luther, the company’s chief human resources officer, said last month.

Amazon and Walmart — both of which have held off on imposing vaccine requirements — in recent days said that fully vaccinated workers no longer have to wear facial coverings. Amazon also told workers that only those fully vaccinated by March 18 would get paid leave due to COVID-19, and Walmart’s emergency leave policy allowing for more paid sick time for coronavirus-related absences expires at the end of March.


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