A long-time Nike employee was fired after refusing to supply his COVID-19 vaccination records to a third-party verification service used by the sportswear giant.
Dex Briggs, 53, claims he was terminated from his marketing manager position at Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon earlier this month after a 26-year run with the company – despite being fully-vaccinated against the virus and offering to show bosses his vaccination card.
Briggs, who is married with a son, says he found the company’s vaccination verification process too worrying to comply with. It sees vaccination records uploaded to software created by unidentified third-party firm.
That firm then has permission to share the information with others in an effort to confirm the vaccination, which Briggs – who has previously fallen victim to identity theft – found too great a breach of his privacy to endure.
‘I have my vaccination card. 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,’ Briggs told The Oregonian.
Nike, which has approximately 14,000 workers assigned to its headquarters near Beaverton, did not immediately respond to DailyMail.com’s request for comment.
Dex Briggs, 53, says he was fired from his role at Nike following a 26-year run with the company after he refused to upload his COVID vaccination records to a third-party verification platform. He is fully-vaccinated against the virus
Nike announced its vaccine mandate to employees in September. Although the Biden Administration’s mandate ordering private firms with 100 or more workers – such as Nike – to order staff to get vaccinated has been struck down, companies can still choose to enact such a mandate themselves.
While it hasn’t publicly addressed the policy, internal memos obtained by the newspaper revealed the policy is aimed at getting workers back onto its Beaverton campus.
They had been due to return from earlier this month, although the recent surge of the COVID Omicron variant has pushed the return date back indefinitely.
The state of Oregon is currently working on its own proof of vaccination card, similar to the widely-used Excelsior Pass operated by New York state. It can be downloaded as an app or in paper form, and provides a QR code which can be scanned to verify that a person has had the shot.
Vaccinated Americans are also given a paper card issued by the CDC after each shot, but it is vulnerable to forgery, with many businesses demanding to see a more secure electronic alternative.
In the meantime, firms such as Nike have turned to third-party vaccine verifiers in a bid to offer digital verification of workers’ status. It is unclear which firm is providing Nike with the service, although companies including GoGetDoc and Clear To Go offer similar types of software.
Briggs said when he learned of the mandate, he wasn’t initially alarmed, having already received a vaccine.
‘I’m already vaccinated, so that doesn’t really matter,’ he thought at the time, accepting that as a private company it is Nike’s right to set its own vaccine policy.
However, he was frustrated when the company moved forward with the verification process without providing details about the platform that would have access to his information.
Briggs, who said both he and his wife have previously been victims of identity theft, also claims Nike wasn’t willing to accept his vaccination card as proof.
‘What are they trying to accomplish with this policy? That should be all that matters,’ he questioned. ‘Why is the policy so, I don’t know, so restrictive?’
He also said he is sympathetic to his colleagues who declined the vaccines due to concerns of long-term health implications or religious objections. Nike did allow employees to apply for exemptions to the mandate however it is unclear how many were approved.
Briggs took to social media, accusing the company of ‘playing political games with the lives of its employees.’ He also said, in an interview with a local newspaper, he doesn’t understand why the policy has to be so ‘restrictive’
Briggs updated his Facebook profile on January 15, indicating he had left the company. The post came about a month after he accused the company of ‘playing political games’ with people’s lives.
‘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 December 17.
‘As a result, my employment will be terminated as of midnight tonight after 26 years of loyal service. Their loss.’
While it is unclear when the termination began, the Oregonian reported on January 12 that 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 the company delayed notifying them of their job status until after the termination date had passed, leaving them ‘in limbo’ as the waiting for details about the status of their employment.
Others who reportedly sought exemptions from the mandate argue it wasn’t clear why Nike approved so requests and denied others. Remote workers told the newspaper they couldn’t understand why the policy applied to them as they weren’t in the office.
Nike announced its vaccine mandate to employees in September. While it hasn’t publicly addressed the policy, internal memos obtained by the newspaper revealed the policy is aimed at getting workers back onto its Beaverton campus (pictured)
Attorney Kyle Abraham, who is also president of the Portland Human Resource Management Association, believes the employees’ experience demonstrates how implementing vaccine mandates can be a complicated and stressful process.
‘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 time to answer their questions,’ said Abraham, adding that when done effectively, vaccine policies make the company’s rationale clear to employees and allow them to ask questions or seek accommodations for their individual situation.
‘Meet employees where they are,’ he argued. ‘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.’
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court voted 6-3 to block President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for private companies.
The high court did however allow a vaccine mandate for employees at health care facilities receiving federal dollars to go into effect. Twenty-seven states had petitioned the Supreme Court to issue a stay on the rule while it is battled out in the judicial system.
Biden has since urged businesses to bring in vaccine mandates on their own and pushed states to ‘do the right thing’ in effort to prevent further spread of COVID.
So far, 75.9 per cent of Americans have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine, 63.5 per cent are fully-vaccinated, and 25.1 per cent have had a booster shot.