After two years of suffering through repeated lockdowns and COVID scares, most of us are getting back to work (the occasional outbreak notwithstanding). By this stage, us office stiffs have got used to socially distancing and wearing masks in the workplace… But for some businesses, that’s not enough.
Enter Nike. The sportswear giant, which employees over 73,000 people globally – of which around 8,000 work in and around their world headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon – has made the bold decision to start firing unvaccinated employees in a move that’s likely to open a huge legal can of worms, and has already sparked controversy.
Nike has had a vaccine mandate for corporate employees in place since October, but as of this Saturday, has started giving any employee who hasn’t received a medical or religious exemption the flick. An example of the dismissal notice having already been leaked online.
“You failed to complete the verification process and our records show that you do not have an approved (exemption),” reads an email Nike sent to one employee last week, The Oregonian reports. “As a result, you are not in compliance with the Policy and your employment is scheduled to be terminated on Saturday, January 15, 2022.”
They’re not the only big American company doing this, either: fellow sportswear brand Columbia as well as retail giant Costco and everyone’s favourite Big Tech firm Google have also announced plans to fire unvaccinated employees.
Nike’s inevitably going to encounter some legal pushback against this, but unlike recent legal challenges against US government vaccine mandates, most legal scholars agree that private employers have far more freedom when it comes to adopting and enforcing mandates like these.
There’s also a strong financial incentive for Nike to push for a vaccine mandate like this, too, as one DMARGE follower has pointed out: “any company that does business or has a contract with the US Govt must ensure 100% of employees are vaccinated. If they don’t adhere to this they will lose their business with the US Govt.”
Check out Nike’s ‘completely trash’ new sneaker – and why it’s causing such a stir – below.
Of course, some people aren’t happy about this decision – just like they weren’t happy about Nike backing Colin Kaepernick or making a sports hijab. Guess if they really feel strongly about it, they can just buy some Adidas…