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Nike, Columbia Sportswear to Fire Unvaccinated Corporate Employees: Report

Nike and Columbia Sportswear plan to fire employees that have refused to receive a vaccine against Covid-19.

According to The Oregonian, Nike told some workers that they will be fired on Saturday because they did not meet the company deadline to verify they are fully vaccinated and they had not received a religious or medical exemption.

“You failed to complete the verification process and our records show that you do not have an approved (exemption),” read the e-mail Nike sent to an employee last week, according to Complex. “As a result, you are not in compliance with the Policy and your employment is scheduled to be terminated on Saturday, January 15, 2022.”

Nike had originally announced its intent to impose a vaccine mandate in early October. “Supporting the effort to bring people safely back to their workplaces in January, we will require all office-based employees in the U.S. to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19,” Nike told Sourcing Journal at the time.

Though the company had framed the decision around a hypothetical return-to-office date of Jan. 10, those plans were put on hold last month as the Omicron variant began to spread across the country. Nike has not yet announced a new return date.

The Oregonian also reported that Columbia Sportswear plans to fire its unvaccinated corporate employees on Feb. 1. Warehouse and retail workers will not be impacted, according to the report.

Nike and Columbia Sportswear did not respond to requests for comments.

Other companies have previously stated an intent to require employees to receive a Covid-19 vaccine. Last May, Saks said it would require nearly 500 New York corporate office employees receive the jab before returning to work in September. TJX, which had previously required all office associates get the vaccine by November, announced last month that it would require employees also get a booster shot. Under Armour has said it would require all U.S. and Canada corporate employees, including those who are full-time remote, be fully vaccinated by Dec. 31. All U.S. retail and distribution center workers were to receive at least their first shot by Jan. 4.

In explaining its policy, Under Armour explicitly referenced one of the most controversial vaccine mandate rules in the U.S., an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Emergency Temporary Standard requiring that businesses with 100 or more employees ensure workers are either fully vaccinated against Covid-19 or tested weekly. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments Friday on a case that could overturn the mandate, with members of the conservative majority appearing to side against the Biden administration’s regulation. The justices, however, did not issue a definitive decision one way or another, leaving the rule in place, at least for the time being. The court signaled it could issue a new opinion as soon as Thursday.

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