The Hershey Co. enacted a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for employees and now the company is firing employees who have not complied.
A representative of the iconic Pennsylvania-based chocolate manufacturer said employees who have not been vaccinated are being “separated from the company,” WHTM-TV in Harrisburg reported Wednesday.
Hershey announced its vaccine mandate for salary employees in August, and it went into effect on Oct. 4.
“Hershey is committed to maintaining a safe and healthy environment for our employees and our customers,” the company said in a statement. “We believe that the best way to protect the health and safety of our employees, their families and our various business partners is to ensure that our salaried employees are vaccinated against COVID-19. This is to reduce the spread of the virus and the potential for serious disease or death.”
Not only is Hershey firing employees who did not comply, but it is also asking the employees on the way out the door to sign a nine-page confidentiality and release agreement that would remove their rights to sue the company and to talk about their experience there, The Epoch Times reported on Monday.
Signing the agreement would give the fired employees “special separation payment,” the report said. Many have declined to sign the agreement and so won’t get that money.
The Epoch Times reported that employees said the payment for the agreement was determined by an algorithm, and for some workers, it was as much as two months’ pay.
Most employees said that it was a great experience working for Hershey and that they were treated well.
“But it stopped being fun after months of human resources department meetings that employees say included education about the vaccines, asking if the employee had changed their mind about getting the shots, as well as uncomfortably invasive questions,” the Epoch Times reported.
One employee, Kim Durham, shared her thoughts.
“I really thought I’d be OK. I thought, you cannot question my faith. Nobody can question that,” she told the Epoch Times.
“I thought this was behind me until September, when I met with an HR representative. It was an interrogation on your religious beliefs. They twisted your words and tried to put words in your mouth. It was terrible,” Durham said.
Another employee said that it felt like harassment from the company.
“What does that have to do with me keeping a job? From the time we started this ordeal, we have had seven meetings about my vaccination status. It was like harassment. I felt like I wanted to crawl under a rock when I was done,” the person said.
This reported harassment came in spite of Hershey’s official statement that it would work to accommodate employees.
“To support this, the company sponsored multiple vaccination clinics and allowed employees to seek accommodations for religious or medical reasons. The company has engaged in an interactive process with our employees to evaluate when an accommodation with regard to vaccination status is needed or warranted,” the Hershey representative said, according to WHTM.
But then the company fired those who were unvaccinated and tried to entice them to not sue the company or talk about what happened.
This is corporate bullying, straight and plain.
If employees did not want to be vaccinated, Hershey tried to force their hand in a personal, private medical decision in which a company should have no say.
“I know people who got the vaccine just to keep their job. It wasn’t something they wanted to do, but they needed the job,” Durham said.
“I need a job too,” she said. “But I’m not going to do something I don’t feel comfortable doing, just keeping my job.”
Hershey, however, is not the only company firing unvaccinated employees.
Fortunately, many fired employees from Hershey reportedly did not sign the confidentiality and release agreement.
Perhaps they will file lawsuits against the company for harassment and show the nation how inappropriate it is to threaten and bully employees over the vaccine.