Outdoor workwear company Carhartt started trending on Twitter on Jan. 18 when a screenshot of an email sent to associates regarding its standing COVID-19 vaccine requirement began making the rounds.
Amy Hellebuyck, Carhartt’s senior public relations manager, confirmed that the email—from CEO Mark Valade—was legitimate and accurately represented the company’s position on vaccines for employees.
The memo states that while Carhartt is extending its deadline for workers at two of its locations to get the jab, the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling on the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for large employers did not change Carhartt’s policy.
From the email:
We, and the medical community, continue to believe vaccines are necessary to ensure a safe working environment for every associate and even perhaps their households. While we appreciate that there may be differing views, workplace safety is an area where we and the union that represents our associates cannot compromise. An unvaccinated workforce is both a people and business risk that our company is unwilling to take.
Speaking of “differing views”—some Twitter users had a lot to say. Some were in favor of Carhartt’s messaging:
Proud to support good corporate citizens like Carhartt. pic.twitter.com/pD1Myhn6er
— Amy Siskind 🏳️🌈 (@Amy_Siskind) January 18, 2022
— Rebecca Mitchell, HD106 (@Rebecca4Georgia) January 18, 2022
Others were not:
— ELIJAH SCHAFFER 🇺🇸🇦🇺 (@ElijahSchaffer) January 18, 2022
I spend thousands a year on @Carhartt hoodies, jackets & winter gear. Today that ends. I guess I am looking for alternatives. Seriously, this is insane given their target market. I am done purchasing any of their stuff and giving them thousands in free advertising. pic.twitter.com/kyHaNwlO6c
— TheQuartering (@TheQuartering) January 18, 2022
YouTuber and standup comedian Brent Terhune posted a TikTok calling for the boycott of Carhartt products:
I’m done with Carhartt. 🎤drop pic.twitter.com/0OC79J04dN
— Brent Terhune in OKC Jan 20-22 (@BrentTerhune) January 18, 2022
Hellebuyck notes that while the email to employees was not originally intended for an external audience, the team anticipated the possibility.
“While a company may not intend for its internal communications to be shared publicly, communications professionals are always aware that the possibility exists,” she says. “Which is why at Carhartt, our communications team works hand-in-hand to ensure that our messaging is consistent, regardless of the channel.”
Carhartt also shared a statement with PR Daily via email further reinforcing its stance on the COVID-19 vaccine and echoing much of the language from Valade’s original email:
Carhartt made the decision to implement its own vaccine mandate as part of our long-standing commitment to workplace safety. Our recent communication to employees was to reinforce that the Supreme Court ruling does not affect the mandate we put in place.
Carhartt fully understands and respects the varying opinions on this topic, and we are aware some of our associates do not support this policy. However, we stand behind our decision because we believe vaccines are necessary to protect our workforce.
Despite the social media hubbub, it’s important to remember that less than 25% of Americans actually use Twitter—and research shows that even stinging op-eds about a company don’t always end up affecting brand perception in a negative way.