WILMINGTON – The multinational investment bank Citi on Thursday became the first major Delaware office employer to issue a strict COVID-19 vaccinate-or-terminate mandate outside of the health care industry and higher education.
The bank, which employs 2,800 around New Castle County, had previously required that employees returning to its offices in large metro cities be vaccinated, but had not made a wide-scale directive to its tens of thousands of U.S. employees. The employees in Wilmington had not been required to return to offices yet like those in New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston and other major cities, according to a spokesperson.
Citi has had a presence in Delaware since 1982 and employed upward of 1,800 people in 2012 primarily at its Delaware Operations Center at the Airport Commons in New Castle but also in downtown Wilmington at the Brandywine Building, where its logo adorns the roof.
In Wilmington, most other major banks such as JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Capital One have taken the same stance of requiring vaccination for in-person roles that aren’t client facing but stopping short of requiring it as a condition of employment.
Citi’s head of human resources, Sara Wechter, wrote in a LinkedIn post that the bank would “assess all requests for religious, medical or any other accommodation required by state or local law on a case-by-case basis,” but that vaccination would become an employment requirement. No deadline for compliance was immediately announced.
Wechter, who wrote that Citi leadership “thought long and hard about how we navigate the latest stages of the pandemic,” said the bank made its decision due to President Joe Biden’s executive order requiring vaccination of federal contractors – the federal government is “a large and important client of Citi,” she said – and that a “vaccinated workforce enables us to ensure the health and safety of our colleagues as we return to the office in the U.S.”
“Our people are our most important asset, and we will do all we can to help our colleagues comply with this new requirement. We’ve been through a lot, and we are proud of how we’ve all come together to support each other,” Wechter added.
Until now, the only major Delaware employers to require vaccination as an employment condition have been health care systems, including ChristianaCare, Nemours Children’s Health and Trinity Health, and the University of Delaware. Other major office employers, including AstraZeneca and Amtrak, have required that employees either be vaccinated or tested regularly to work in their offices.
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