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Google Threatens Termination For Unvaccinated Employees

Jonathan Walker
Jonathan loves talking politics, economics and philosophy. He carries unique perspectives on everything making him a rather odd mix of liberal-conservative with a streak of independent Austrian thought.
Published: December 17, 2021
Google employees not vaccinated against COVID-19 stand to lose their jobs.
Google employees not vaccinated against COVID-19 stand to lose their jobs. (Image: 377053 via Pixabay)

In a memo issued to employees, Google leadership threatened anyone who does not comply with the firm’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate will lose pay and will eventually be fired. Google’s strengthened stance on vaccination comes while Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate has been halted in multiple states.

The memo warned employees to declare their vaccination status by Dec. 3 and upload documentation proving such vaccination. Alternatively, employees can seek religious or medical exemption as well. 

Workers who do not follow these rules will be contacted by the company. Those who do not comply with the rules by Jan. 18 will be put on “paid administrative leave” for a period of 30 days. Then they will be put on “unpaid personal leave” for up to six months; finally, they will be terminated. 

“We expect that almost all roles at Google in the US will fall within the scope of the executive order… Anyone entering a Google building must be fully vaccinated or have an approved accommodation that allows them to work or come onsite… Frequent testing is not a valid alternative to vaccination,” the company’s memo said.

According to Biden’s vaccine mandate, any American company that employs 100 or more people must be fully vaccinated by Jan. 18 or get unvaccinated employees tested regularly for the virus. In November, a federal court suspended the mandate. However, Google continues to require its over 150,000 employees to get vaccinated citing Biden’s executive order.

In November, around 600 employees at Google had signed a memo that opposed the vaccine requirement imposed by the company. The manifesto asked Google to retract the vaccine mandate and instead develop a new one that is “inclusive of all Googlers.” Calling on other employees to oppose the mandate “as a matter of principle,” the memo warned that Google’s decision will have an outsized impact on America’s corporate world.

In an email seen by CNBC, Google’s vice president of global security, Chris Rackow, had asked all employees to get inoculated even if they operate from home since the company works with the federal government. Frequent testing is “not a valid alternative,” he insisted. However, the manifesto strongly disagreed with Rackow’s stance on the issue.

“Such Googlers (unvaccinated employees) may never feel comfortable expressing their true sentiments about a company health policy and other, unrelated sensitive topics. This results in silenced perspective and exacerbates the internal ideological ‘echo chamber’ which folks both inside and outside of Google have observed for years,” the authors state in the manifesto.

In its latest memo, Google asked unvaccinated individuals to “explore” whether there are any positions at the company they can fill in that do not conflict with Biden’s vaccine mandate. If any employee is performing a role that falls outside the scope of the mandate and can be performed outside of Google’s office, they can choose to “permanently work remotely going forward.”

Biden’s vaccine mandate is temporarily blocked in 24 states. This includes 14 states that are involved in a lawsuit against the mandate which is under review by the appeals court of New Orleans and 10 states where the executive order was blocked as per a ruling passed on Nov. 29. 

In addition to requiring private employers to get their employees vaccinated, Biden’s mandate also insisted that all federal contractors and staff at healthcare facilities that get federal funding must get inoculated.