Clothing Company Carhartt Keeps Employee Vaccine Mandate

Carolyn Crist

January 20, 2022

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

Carhartt, a Michigan-based clothing company that's known for its heavy-duty workwear, announced that it would keep its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employees despite last week's Supreme Court ruling that blocked vaccine requirements for large companies.

In an email to employees, Carhartt CEO Mark Valade said the Supreme Court ruling "does not change Carhartt's mandatory vaccination program, which went into effect on January 4."

The email circulated on social media, garnering positive and negative feedback this week.

"We put workplace safety at the very top of our priority list and the Supreme Court's recent ruling doesn't impact that core value," Valade wrote. "We, and the medical community, continue to believe vaccines are necessary to ensure a safe working environment for every associate and even perhaps their households."

The company will also continue its policy of firing employees who don't meet the requirement.

"An unvaccinated workforce is both a people and business risk that our company is unwilling to take," he wrote.

Amy Hellebuyck, a spokesperson for Carhartt, confirmed the details to several news outlets this week.

"Carhartt made the decision to implement its own vaccine mandate as part of our long-standing commitment to workplace safety," she told Newsweek. "Our recent communication to employees was to reinforce that the Supreme Court ruling does not affect the mandate we put in place."

The Supreme Court blocked the Biden administration's policy that would require vaccination or weekly testing for large private businesses.

"Although Congress has indisputably given OSHA [the Occupational Safety and Health Administration] the power to regular occupational dangers, it has not given that agency the power to regulate public health more broadly," the six conservative justices who voted against the mandate wrote in their opinion statement.

"Requiring the vaccination of 84 million Americans, selected simply because they work for employers with more than 100 employees, certainly falls in the latter category," they wrote.

But businesses can still have vaccine mandates or other COVID-19 policies on their own. Carhartt's vaccine mandate, which includes exemptions for religious and medical reasons, will stay in place. A "vast majority" of the company's employees are vaccinated or in the process of getting vaccinated, NPR reported.

"Carhartt fully understands and respects the varying opinions on this topic, and we are aware some of our associates do not support this policy," Hellebuyck told NPR. "However, we stand behind our decision because we believe vaccines are necessary to protect our workforce."

SOURCES:

Twitter: @Rebecca4Georgia, Jan. 18, 2022.

Newsweek: "Carhartt Keeps Vaccination Mandate in Place For Workers Despite SCOTUS Ruling."

Supreme Court of the United States: "Per Curiam: Nos. 21A244 and 21A247."

NPR: "Carhartt blowback shows the tightrope companies face over vaccine mandate decisions."

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