White House: Yes, we may still fire some feds even if they have valid exemptions

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

The goalposts continue to move when it comes to Joe Biden’s executive order declaring that all federal workers be vaccinated against COVID-19. And while the rule has never actually applied to all federal workers, the initial orders have continued to morph on a weekly basis. The latest example shows up in the “guidance” from the White House Safer Federal Workforce Task Force. The rule originally indicated that some religious and medical exemptions would be available for qualifying workers. But the workers are now being informed that agencies may require “additional measures” beyond the usual protocols that exempted, unvaccinated workers will need to submit to. And one of those additional measures can involve firing them anyway. (Government Executive)

The Biden administration told federal agencies on Monday that although the president’s mandate that all federal employees be vaccinated against COVID-19 allows for some religious and medical exemptions, agencies may still fire employees with otherwise valid exemptions if the employees are in certain types of jobs where no other safety protocol would be sufficient.

The news comes in updated guidance from the White House Safer Federal Workforce Task Force, which provides more detailed information about what qualifies as a valid medical exemption and safety requirements for employees who successfully obtain an exemption from the vaccine mandate.

The task force wrote that while in most cases, unvaccinated employees would need to wear masks, continue to maintain a physical distance from coworkers and submit to regular testing, agencies may require additional measures in certain cases.

This is just the epitome of ruling by executive order, isn’t it? ‘The rules are what we say they are’ has been replaced with ‘the rules are what we say they are today.’

You have to wonder how many federal workers received the original instructions and decided to go seek an exemption. If they received one, they probably felt like they would at least be able to keep their jobs, albeit in an uncomfortable fashion. (More on that in a moment.) But now, after hearing this, they are left to wonder if they fall under one of those “additional measures” categories and will be booted out of their career path anyway. In the past, we’ve written here about how it’s almost impossible to fire a criminally deficient federal worker thanks to the union controls that are in place. But suddenly it’s as easy as pie. Who knew?

If you happen to be an unvaccinated worker with an exemption that holds up, you’ll still have some unpleasant surprises awaiting you when you return to the job according to these new guidelines. Even if the vaccinated employees are free to go maskless in a mostly normal environment, you will need to “wear masks, continue to maintain a physical distance from coworkers and submit to regular testing.” In other words, they will make you feel as unwelcome as possible until you comply. If you’re lucky.

With all of that said, let’s remember that these rules don’t apply to all workers and it’s not just the high and mighty that are being excused. Some agencies will allow the option of weekly testing instead of proof of vaccination while others will not. And if you’re one of the 500,000 to 600,000 federal employees who work for the United States Postal Service, you are being “advised” to get vaccinated, but your employers won’t even be allowed to ask about your vaccination status. You are exempted automatically because the powerful union you belong to donated a lot of money to Joe Biden’s campaign and they objected to the mandate.

As you already know, postal workers frequently have to work together in cramped quarters receiving and loading mail, while letter carriers visit the homes of hundreds of people per day, frequently interacting with customers. But they are somehow miraculously unable to catch or spread the virus apparently. That must be the mistake these other feds were making when they went to seek an exemption from their doctor or their pastor. They should have asked their union rep!

This has long since turned into nothing more than a bad joke. This is Pandemic Theater at its finest. Even the White House doesn’t take it seriously. They just want to scare people, make it look like they are “doing something” and hand out favors to their friends. I guess this is what they meant by “Build Back Better,” huh?