On Jan. 17, 2021, an image went viral on social media that supposedly showed an email from Carhartt CEO Mark Valade to the company's associates, informing them that a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling would not impact the company's mandatory COVID-19 vaccination:
As this image was first posted by accounts with no official connection to Carhartt, some people wondered if it was a genuine email from the company. We reached out to Carhartt, and a spokesperson confirmed its authenticity, saying it "was sent internally to our associates."
This email was sent in response to a ruling issued by the Supreme Court on Jan. 13 that blocked President Joe Biden's administration's mandate for large private companies to require their employees to get vaccinated (or provide a negative test result) to enter the workplace. NBC News reported:
The Supreme Court on Thursday blocked the Biden administration from enforcing its sweeping vaccine-or-test requirements for large private companies, but allowed a vaccine mandate to stand for medical facilities that take Medicare or Medicaid payments.
The rulings came three days after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s emergency measure for businesses started to take effect.
The mandate required that workers at businesses with 100 or more employees get vaccinated or submit a negative Covid test weekly to enter the workplace. It also required unvaccinated workers to wear masks indoors at work.
While the Supreme Court's ruling prevented the Biden administration from requiring large companies to ensure their employees are vaccinated, it does not stop companies from enacting a mandatory vaccination policy themselves. In the viral email, Carhartt explained that the Supreme Court's decision did not impact its policy. Carhartt wrote:
The ruling does not change Carhartt's mandatory vaccination program, which went into effect on January 4th ... 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.
We, and the medical community, continue to believe vaccines are necessary to ensure a safe working environment for every associate and even perhaps their household. While we appreciate that there may be differing views, workplace safety is an area where we and the union that represents our associates cannot compromise. An unvaccinated workforce is both a people and business risk that our company is unwilling to take.
This email was widely circulated by people critical of Carhartt's decision to require their employees to get vaccinated, and by people who applauded the company for standing by its policy, even though the company was no longer being forced to do so.