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Retailer Saks requiring its workers to return to office vaccinated

N.Y. governor outlines new COVID guidance
N.Y. governor outlines new COVID guidance 05:30

Retailer Saks is bringing its workers back to the office in the fall and requiring that they be fully vaccinated before they return. Saks, or Saks.com, is an e-commerce company run separately from the famed Saks Fifth Avenue department stores. 

Saks employs roughly 500 workers at its Brookfield Place headquarters in lower Manhattan, which will become "the default workplace" for all its employees who are based in New York City come September, a Saks spokesperson said in a statement to CBS MoneyWatch. 

In addition, employees must be inoculated against the coronavirus before returning to the physical workplace. 

"We are asking all employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine before returning to the office to help our team feel more confident about coming in," a spokesperson for the dot-com company said. 

The company will give exemptions to and provide flexibility for those employees "who are not in a position to be vaccinated at this time," the spokesperson added. 

CDC mask guidance creating confusion 09:48

Employers are generally free to require safety measures such as requiring that their employees be vaccinated. But they must provide reasonable accommodations for individuals prohibited from being vaccinated because of medical reasons. Individuals who don't wish to take the vaccine because of religious beliefs are also exempt from mandatory vaccination under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Masks will also be required in the office, despite recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that says vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear face coverings in most settings, including indoors. 

Saks President and CEO Marc Metrick believes that bringing workers back to the office will help his hometown rebound: "As a longtime New York City resident, getting the workforce back to the office safely is an important step in reviving the vibrance that makes this the greatest city in the world," he wrote in a LinkedIn post, citing an interview with the New York Times. 

A Saks spokesperson indicated the company would still provide in-person workers with flexibility, including some opportunities to work remotely.

"In-person interaction and collaboration is extremely important. At the same time, we recognize that ways of working have changed for a number of people and will continue to provide flexibility. Striking a balance between in-person and remote work will be pivotal to our success," the spokesperson said. 

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