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A long-time, fully-vaccinated Nike employee has been fired for refusing to upload his COVID-19 vaccination records to a third-party verification service.
Dex Briggs, 53, claims he lost his job as a marketing manager at the sportswear giant’s headquarters in Beaverton, OR, earlier this month, for failing to comply with Nike’s vaccine verification process, which required him to upload his records to software created by an unidentified third-party firm.
Briggs, who has been a victim of identity theft in the past, found the process, which would allow the third-party firm to share his information with others, too worrisome to comply, according to a report in the Daily Mail.
“I have my vaccination card,” Briggs told the Oregonian. “I’m quite willing to show you that. But I’m not willing to give my personal information to this [outside] company, and any other company they want to share it with, without even telling me who they are.”
Nike, which employs approximately 14,000 people in the Beaverton area, has not responded to requests for comments.
The company announced its vaccine mandate back in September. Despite the fact that the Biden administration’s mandate directing private companies with more than 100 employees to require vaccinations was struck down by SCOTUS, “woke” companies such as Carhartt and Nike have chosen to push forward with their own mandates.
While it hasn’t stated so publicly, internal memos obtained by the newspaper revealed that Nike’s policy is aimed at getting workers back onto its Beaverton campus. Employees were scheduled to return earlier this month, but the recent surge in Omicron cases has pushed that date back indefinitely.
Meanwhile, the state of Oregon is working to unveil a state “proof of vaccination” card, similar to the controversial Excelsior Pass used in New York state. The Excelsior can be downloaded as an app or in paper form and generates a QR code which can be scanned to verify the holder has received the shot.
Failing that, Nike and other firms have turned to the questionable security of third-party vaccine verifiers in a bid to digitalize proof of workers’ status. It is not known which service Nike has employed, but similar software is offered by companies such as GoGetDoc and Clear To Go.
Briggs, who was already vaccinated, was not initially alarmed by Nike’s vaccine mandate and accepted it as a private company’s right to set its own policies.
His frustration came when the company moved forward with the verification process, without providing details about the platform and how it would handle his private information.
When he balked, Briggs was told Nike was not willing to accept his vaccination card as proof of his compliance.
“What are they trying to accomplish with this policy?” Briggs asked. “Why is the policy so, I don’t know, so restrictive?”
Briggs, who also voiced sympathy for his colleagues who declined the vaccines due to medical concerns and religious objections, took to social media to voice his concerns.
“My employer is playing these political games with the lives of its employees which is why I chose not to comply with the inflexible vaccination verification policy that goes into effect today,” he wrote on Facebook. “As a result, my employment will be terminated as of midnight tonight after 26 years of loyal service. Their loss.”
About a month after that December post, Briggs updated his employment status to read: “Left job at the world’s leading designer, marketer and distributor of authentic athletic footwear, apparel, equipment and accessories.”
Briggs isn’t the only one who has been placed on Nike’s chopping block.
According to a Jan. 12 report in the Oregonian, several employees had received the following email notice earlier in the month: “You failed to complete the verification process and our records show that you do not have an approved (exemption). As a result, you are not in compliance with the Policy and your employment is scheduled to be terminated on Saturday, January 15, 2022.”
Some employees claim Nike delayed notifying them of their job status until after the termination date had already passed, leaving them ‘in limbo’ with respects to their employment.
Others who reportedly sought exemptions from the mandate argue that Nike approved some requests and denied others without providing clarity. Remote workers wondered why the policy would apply to them, as they were not in the office.
Attorney and president of the Portland Human Resource Management Association, Kyle Abraham, points to the employees’ experiences as examples of how stressful and complicated the vaccine mandates can be when they are implemented.
“You have to know and have thought out and prepared what your policy is going to be, and then communicate to your employees what your policy is going to be and set up a time to answer their questions,” Abraham said.
When done effectively, he argued, the company’s rationale is clear and employees’ questions and concerns are addressed according to their individual situations.
“Meet employees where they are,” Abraham said. “Everybody has a different life experience that shapes what they feel about the vaccine. Help me understand where you’re coming from. And once I understand where you’re coming from, I might be able to craft an accommodation that can work. It can take time to go through this process, but it’s worth it at the end.”
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