Daily Management Review

Citigroup Will Fire Employees That Remain Unvaccinated By This Month, Say Reports


Citigroup Will Fire Employees That Remain Unvaccinated By This Month, Say Reports
Citigroup Inc employees in the United States who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19 by January 14 would be placed on unpaid leave and dismissed by the end of the month unless an exemption is granted, said reports based on a company memo.
The bank, which is based in the United States, revealed its intention to implement new vaccination regulations in October and is now the first big Wall Street company to do so.
Its decision comes as the banking industry struggles to return employees to work safely and resume normal operations at a time when the highly infectious Omicron coronavirus type is spreading like wildfire.
Other large Wall Street firms, like Goldman Sachs & Co, Morgan Stanley, and JPMorgan Chase & Co, have advised unvaccinated workers to work from home, but none have gone so far as to fire employees.
While Citigroup is the first Wall Street bank to require vaccinations, a number of other big U.S. corporations, like Google and United Airlines, have implemented "no-jab, no-job" policies with varying degrees of rigor.
According to a person familiar with the situation, more than 90% of Citigroup employees have complied with the obligation so far, and that number is rapidly climbing, adding that the timing of the vaccination mandate will be different for branch employees.
Citigroup also stated that it would evaluate vaccine exemptions on religious or medical grounds, as well as any other accommodation provided by state or municipal law, on a case-by-case basis when announcing its policy.
Because the government was a "big and significant" client, the bank said it was following President Joe Biden's administration's policy of requiring all staff supporting federal contracts to be fully vaccinated.
"You are welcome to apply for other roles at Citi in the future as long as you are compliant with Citi’s vaccination policy," the bank said in the memo. "If you are not vaccinated, we urge you to get vaccinated as soon as possible."
Vaccination has turned out to be a divisive subject in the United States, as it has in many other nations, with some people vehemently opposed and many Republicans critical of the government and corporate mandates.
On Friday, the US Supreme Court heard arguments from Republican state leaders and business groups seeking to suspend a Biden rule requiring employees to be vaccinated or tested regularly for companies with more least 100 employees.
Many employers initially embraced the White House's vaccine mandate because it took the subject out of their hands, according to Columbia Business School professor Adam Galinsky, who advises corporations on their return-to-work strategy.
"However, companies are recognizing that the Biden mandate may not hold up at the conservative Supreme Court," he said. "If it doesn't hold then they are going to have the decision put back in their hands and they will have to do something."
Many financial organizations have postponed their return-to-work plans and are encouraging employees to get vaccinated and boosted, but have so far refrained from imposing vaccine mandates due to legal concerns.
"This is going to be a challenging and complex policy to implement," said Chase Hattaway, a partner at law firm RumbergerKirk, noting the bank has to navigate federal anti-discrimination and other state laws.
"Citi will have to tailor its policy to state legislation, and in many cases, cities and municipalities will have different regulations as well, that may require even further carve-outs," Hattaway said.