Starbucks Ends COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate After Supreme Court Ruling

Starbucks Corp. has ended its COVID-19 vaccine mandate following a Supreme Court ruling finding the Biden administration’s attempt to force workers to get a vaccine or wear a mask and get tested weekly was an overstep of its authority.

“We respect the court’s ruling and will comply,” Starbucks Chief Operating Officer John Culver wrote in a memorandum to workers.

In a 6–3 ruling handed down on Jan. 13, the nation’s top court said the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration likely did not have the authority to issue a vaccine mandate, which was set to apply to all businesses with 100 or more workers.

While the administration argued the Occupational Safety and Health Act enabled such a mandate, the act does not “plainly authorize” the vaccination requirements, the majority ruled.

“The Act empowers the Secretary to set workplace safety standards, not broad public health measures. Confirming the point, the Act’s provisions typically speak to hazards that employees face at work. And no provision of the Act addresses public health more generally, which falls outside of OSHA’s sphere of expertise,” they wrote.

Following the decision, which blocked the mandate, some companies dropped vaccination requirements but others have kept them in place, including Starbucks until this week.

Starbucks had said on Jan. 3 that it would comply with the mandate by forcing employees to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or get tested for the disease weekly.

“This is an important step we can take to help more partners get vaccinated, limit the spread of COVID-19, and create choices that partners can own based on what’s best for them,” Culver wrote in a letter to workers at the time.

In the new memo, the company said more than 90 percent of its workers have already disclosed their vaccination status, with a vast majority fully vaccinated.

Fully vaccinated means a person has received two shots of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson jab.

Culver also said in the memo Starbucks strongly encourages vaccinations and boosters as well as disclosure of vaccination status.

Starbucks has about 220,000 employees in the United States.

General Electric Co. is among the other companies that have suspended their mandates after the Supreme Court blocked the Biden administration rule, while Citigroup is one of the businesses that have kept theirs in place.

Allen Zhong and Reuters contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times