Publix Supermarkets sent an internal memo to all employees on Wednesday, making clear its intention to implement a policy that would require associates to disclose their vaccination status to management, and be subjected to weekly testing procedures if deemed necessary.
The memo, obtained by The Capitolist Thursday morning, outlines a two-phased plan that began Jan. 10, detailing a face cover requirement for all employees, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, and adherence to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines.
“In September, President Biden shared his 6-pronged strategy to combat COVID-19. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued its emergency temporary standard (ETS) on Nov. 5 for employers with at least 100 employees that has several requirements, including requiring employees who are not fully vaccinated to test weekly for COVID-19 and wear face coverings while indoors in the workplace,” the memo said. “Due to the potential for significant fines from the federal government, the testing and face covering requirements will be strictly enforced. The ETS takes effect in 2 phases and remains in effect for 6 months from Nov. 5. Implementation of the ETS may change as a result of the petitions currently pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.”
The grocery conglomerate is unable to enforce a vaccine requirement among employees following an expedited special legislative session in November that saw lawmakers, largely along party lines, pass four anti-COVID-19 vaccine mandate bills within Florida. The legislation, signed by Governor Ron DeSantis requires employers to provide exemptions including, but not limited to medical reasons, religious beliefs, regular testing, immunity based on a previous infection, and an agreement to wear protective gear. The legislation also includes fines for businesses that fire a worker without allowing the exemptions.
“All employees – fully vaccinated, partially vaccinated and unvaccinated – are required to inform their employers of their vaccination status,” continued the memo. “Employees who have not provided acceptable proof of full vaccination status are required to be testes and provide documentation of a negative test result on at least a weekly basis. Until further notice, Publix will provide free tests at work for associates who are not fully vaccinated so they can self-administer in the presence of a Publix proctor while on the clock.”
Publix is also allowing employees to choose to be tested outside of work at their own expense, though would still be required to provide official documentation of a negative test.
DeSantis in November announced Florida’s entry into a multi-state lawsuit against OSHA guidelines and requirements. Accompanied by states like Georgia and Alabama, The case is to be filed in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
“I think this is so far beyond what we’ve ever seen before that, I think we have a very, very high chance of success,” said the governor. “People should be able to make these decisions. I don’t think people want this decision yanked away from them, I don’t think they want to allow a precedent where the federal government can come in and just force you to do what it wants you to do.”