Why Despite Supreme Court Ruling, Some Employers Will Still Require Vaccinations

The Biden administration’s nationwide Covid-19 vaccine-or-testing mandate for large private employers is dead, following the 6-3 Supreme Court opinion Thursday. But for many companies and their workers, a jab will still be a job requirement.

That’s because many local governments, including New York City’s, have vaccine requirements in place, which aren’t affected by the Supreme Court’s opinion. Neither is the U.S. government’s mandate that federal contractors’ employees be vaccinated. Still more large and small U.S. employers have their own requirements.

Wells Fargo (ticker: WFC), which had 230,000 employees as of its last annual report, has a mandate that closely resembles the federal vaccine-or-testing requirement. In November, it told employees that it was strongly recommending they get vaccinated, and that they would need to submit to regular Covid-19 testing if they don’t.

“Wells Fargo will continue our testing program,” said a Wells Fargo spokeswoman on Thursday. “We believe it is the right thing to do for the safety of all employees and our customers.”

Citi’s (C) stricter vaccine mandate will still go into effect on Friday, Barron’s has learned. The bank is requiring its 210,000 employees be vaccinated, or else be fired at the end of this month. On LinkedIn, head of human resources Sara Wechter said Thursday evening that the company has reached 99% compliance.

Federal contractors subject to a separate federal vaccine rule include several of the U.S.’s largest industrial firms, such as Boeing (BA), with 141,000 employees, and Honeywell (HON), which has 103,000 employees. Both declined to comment on Thursday.

The federal rule also applies to several airlines, which transport mail or government employees, or participate in a civil reserve air fleet program, among other federal aviation services. A spokesman for American Airlines Group (AAL), in a statement to Barron’s, said that the ruling “doesn’t change anything for American because we are subject to the federal contractor mandate, not the OSHA rule, which is what the Supreme Court blocked.” More than 96% of the airline’s staff have submitted proof of vaccination or a request for an exemption, he said.

The federal department also updated compliance deadlines, requiring Medicare and Medicaid facilities to have their staff vaccinated with the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Jan. 27, 2022. Staff must be up to date on COVID-19 immunization by Feb. 28, 2022.

In a statement Thursday, the American Hospital Association (AHA) said it will work with hospitals to comply with the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

“Now that the Supreme Court ruling has lifted the ban on the CMS vaccine mandate, the AHA will work with the hospital field to find ways to comply that balances that requirement with the need to retain a sufficient workforce to meet the needs of their patients,” stated Rick Pollack, AHA president and CEO.

“[W]e urge any [healthcare] providers that are not subject to the CMS requirement to continue their efforts to achieve high levels of vaccination. We must continue to work together as a field to use vaccines as the powerful tool that they are to protect everyone in our communities,” Pollack continued.

AMA RESPONDS TO SUPREME COURT RULING
The American Medical Association (AMA) released a statement Thursday on the Supreme Court’s ruling. The statement says:

“While the American Medical Association (AMA) is pleased by today’s opinion allowing the Center for Medicare and Medicaid’s (CMS) interim rule requiring COVID-19 vaccines for health care workers to take effect, we are deeply disappointed that the Court blocked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) emergency temporary standard for COVID-19 vaccination and testing for large businesses from moving forward.

Workplace transmission has been a major factor in the spread of COVID-19. Now more than ever, workers in all settings across the country need commonsense, evidence-based protections against COVID-19 infection, hospitalization, and death — particularly those who are immunocompromised or cannot get vaccinated due to a medical condition. In fact, recent data released by United Airlines shows that before their own vaccine requirement went into effect, on average, more than one United employee was dying each week from the virus; however, today, none of their vaccinated workers are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 despite breakthrough infections and 3,000 current positive employees.”

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