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Starbucks No Longer Requiring Employees to Vaccinate After SCOTUS Ruling

Starbucks No Longer Requiring Employees to Vaccinate After SCOTUS Ruling

The next time you head to Starbucks for your next caffeine fix, there might be an added ingredient in your Venti Frappuccino that you didn’t order: the Omicron variant.

In a memo sent Tuesday to employees, the Seattle coffee giant said the company is no longer requiring its U.S. workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19, reversing a plan it announced earlier this month.

Responding to last week’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, which rejected the Biden administration’s plan to require vaccines or regular COVID testing at companies with more than 100 workers, Starbucks Chief Operating Officer John Culver wrote in the memo that “We respect the court’s ruling and will comply.”

On January 3rd, Starbucks said it would require all employees to be vaccinated by February 9th or face a weekly COVID test requirement, citing the Biden administration’s rules. Starbucks required workers to reveal their vaccination status by Jan. 10.

At the time, Culver said it was the responsibility of Starbucks’ leadership “to do whatever we can to help keep you safe and create the safest work environment possible.” In Tuesday’s memo, Culver said the company continues to strongly encourage vaccinations and booster shots. The company also told workers on Tuesday that they shouldn’t wear cloth masks to work, and should instead use medical-grade surgical masks provided by the company. Starbucks said Wednesday that 90% have reported and the “vast majority” are fully vaccinated. Starbucks wouldn’t say what percent of workers are not fully vaccinated.

There was an immediate social media reaction to the reversal, which is among the most high-profile corporate actions in response to the Supreme Court ruling. “#BoycottStarbucks” began trending on Twitter early Wednesday afternoon.

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Starbucks currently employs 228,000 people in the U.S., and even one employee potentially carrying the virus could impact thousands in communities where Starbucks stores are located. The company also has placement inside of retail establishments, such as Target and Safeway, as well as malls, airports, and other travel centers.

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