Last week, the US Supreme Court blocked Biden administration from forcing big bosses to be vaccinated or testing for employees, an irrational and deadly decision may prove Harm to American workers.
But judges not only rob millions of people of their right to a safe workplace, they also create a cover for CEOs to relax rules on worker health and safety. On Tuesday, the biggest coffee company on the planet gave us a grim preview of what could prove to be a deadly race to the bottom caused by fear and political consequences.
Following the Court’s decision, it is conceivable that many companies have taken steps to comply Federal rule will stop requiring employee vaccinations. As has been widely report Fourth, Starbucks was one of the first stores out of the gate. CEO John Culver sent a sterile memo to all employees announcing the move. He didn’t use these words, but effectively made it clear that bartenders and other employees must now commute to crowded cafes and take advantage of their opportunities with COVID-19 .
Meanwhile, we can be sure that most Starbucks executives are fully vaccinated and rarely – if ever – have to deal with unvaccinated customers just for a living.
But the Seattle coffee giant isn’t just making it harder for hard-working employees. It has also been at least somewhat dishonest about it. Culver said he was simply reacting to the Supreme Court’s order. “We respect the court’s decision and will comply,” he wrote.
Really? The Court’s ruling applies only to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the rule-making body, and the Biden administration. It says nothing about private businesses. Corporations like Starbucks have long had full legal authority to require health and safety standards for all employees, including testing, masking, and vaccinations — and they should. so.
The Supreme Court itself had previously ruled that Indiana University could order vaccinations for all of its faculty, staff, and students. Many lower courts have also upheld private mandates, and countless businesses from United Airlines to Goldman Sachs have successful fulfillment of vaccine requirements. Some companies, like McDonald’s, did so only for office workers, rather than frontline workers; others, like Amtrak, have retreated from rigorous mandates amid concerns about labor shortages. But mandates not only keep workers and customers safer, they’re also good for the company’s bottom line. The vaccinated workforce is far less absent and more productive than if employees had remained unvaccinated. A vaccinated workforce means less disease transmission in retail settings, factories, and store floors — and fewer hospitalizations and deaths.
America Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued clear guidance that employers may require testing, wearing of masks and vaccinations as a reasonable condition of employment. The EEOC guidance was subsequently reinforced by the US Department of Justice, which issued it legal opinion affirmation of compulsory vaccination. It should be noted that the DOJ legal counsel’s memo shows that it is legal for businesses to request vaccines under an Emergency Use Authorization. But at least one of the main vaccines in use today – Pfizer’s – is now fully approved by the FDA. It is clear that for a long time, businesses have legally authorized to authorize COVID-19 vaccination, as long as they provide reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities and religions.
You may want to give Starbucks management a break; maybe they don’t realize that the Supreme Court’s decision doesn’t stop a company like Starbucks from doing the right thing? But certainly when making a decision of this magnitude, affecting an employee’s right to a safe workplace, company management will first check with its legal office. All legal counsel at American businesses and universities know that they have a clear right to request vaccinations. But don’t cryptically hide behind a lame excuse that means: The Supreme Court made me do it.
A very helpful Starbucks spokesperson told me Wednesday that the company mentioned the OSHA rule in original memo dated January 4 vaccination required. It’s correct. But in the same memo, Culver said Starbucks leadership has a responsibility to “do whatever we can to keep you safe and create the safest work environment possible.”
By that standard, only a fully vaccinated workforce can do the job.
Starbucks has built its brand as a progressive and socially responsible organization. And Starbucks has done some great things. It encourages all of its employees to get vaccinated and stay healthy, and it also pays for vacation time to get shots. It also pays for sick leave if there are any side effects from the vaccine. And it recently updated its mask guidelines to encourage the use of surgical-quality or better masks. That is the right thing to do.
But the truth is that if everyone is vaccinated, everyone is safer, especially if they are vulnerable.
I believe the company says it wants to keep people healthy. But the worry is that this giant brand may set the wrong tone for the American corporation. I worry other companies — those that may reach a narrower audience or are limited to conservative customer bases in right-wing areas — will follow what Starbucks has done and see. how they use the Supreme Court as a political cover.
Make no mistake: due to the decision to revoke the vaccine authorization, many Starbucks employees and customers will become infected while serving or drinking a cup of coffee. They can then go home to their parents or vulnerable children. Some will become seriously ill, hospitalized, or even die.
Starbucks may want customers to believe they are following the law, but the reality is far more disturbing. It is harming its workers and customers, and inviting other businesses to do the same.