CNN Fires Three Employees For Going Into Office Without Covid Vaccinations

CNN

CNN head Jeff Zucker said that the network has fired three employees for going into the office without being vaccinated against Covid-19, and that parent WarnerMedia may ultimately require proof of the shots.

Zucker, CNN’s president and chairman of WarnerMedia News and Sports, also said that the network would postpone a planned Sept. 7 return date for most U.S. employees going to the office. The locations have been open, on a voluntary basis, to employees who have been fully vaccinated.

“In the past week, we have been made aware of three employees who were coming to the office unvaccinated,” Zucker wrote in an email to staff. “All three have been terminated. Let me be clear — we have a zero-tolerance policy on this. You need to be vaccinated to come to the office. And you need to be vaccinated to work in the field, with other employees, regardless of whether you enter an office or not. Period. We expect that in the weeks ahead, showing proof of vaccination may become a formal part of the WarnerMedia Passcard process. Regardless, our expectations remain in place.”

WarnerMedia Passcard requires employees to attest to vaccinations, but showing vaccine cards has not been mandatory.

Zucker wrote that the return date “no longer feels appropriate” given the rise in Covid cases across the country. He projected a new return date of mid-October.

“We always said that we would be flexible with our decisions on all of this – as evidenced by the recent change to the Atlanta date,” he wrote. “This is another example of that. As new information is made available, we are constantly evaluating our decisions.”

Zucker also said that employees in Washington, Los Angeles and Atlanta would be required to wear masks in the office. He wrote that “it goes without saying that even in places that we don’t mandate it, anyone who wants to wear a mask should absolutely do so. These decisions can be very personal for people – no two situations are the same. Everyone should do what feels most comfortable for them, without any fear of retaliation or judgment from co-workers.”

The New York Times first reported on the termination of the employees. It was unclear what the specific circumstances were.

Other companies, like The Walt Disney Co. and Netflix, have issued vaccine requirements for large segments of their workforces. Disney’s policy, announced last week, requires salaried and non-union hourly employees in the U.S. to attest to their vaccine status.

Zucker’s complete memo is below:

Over the course of the past week, there has been a lot of discussion and updates regarding COVID, so I thought it would make sense to reach out and share our most current thinking.

First and foremost, something I know is on a lot of your minds: our official return to the office. We have decided to postpone the September 7 return date in the United States. This was not an easy decision, and there is much to consider. The bottom line is that, based on the information that is available today, and what experts expect to evolve with the virus in the weeks ahead, September 7 no longer feels appropriate. We always said that we would be flexible with our decisions on all of this – as evidenced by the recent change to the Atlanta date. This is another example of that. As new information is made available, we are constantly evaluating our decisions.

As of today, we are expecting and planning on a return date in early to mid-October. But, given the uncertainty that exists today, we are reluctant to put a specific date on it. We will evaluate in the coming weeks, and I promise that we will give you at least 30 days notice for any return. For the sake of your planning, early to mid-October seems reasonable at this point.

In the meantime, most of our domestic locations remain open on a voluntary basis for employees who are fully vaccinated (two weeks past their last shot). And we encourage all of you who are ready to return to do so. If you were planning to return in September, and are still comfortable doing so, we look forward to seeing you. In fact, on the news side, a little more than a third of our domestic employees are already back. Locations outside the US are being handled on a local basis and all of you have heard from management on those plans. As a reminder, EVERYONE from news, sports and studios who comes in now and going forward must be vaccinated. We have been clear about this for months, so there should be no confusion.

Thus far, we have left proof of vaccination to an honor system. While we have asked for attestation to your status via Passcard, it has not been mandatory to produce a vaccine card. In the past week, we have been made aware of three employees who were coming to the office unvaccinated. All three have been terminated. Let me be clear — we have a zero-tolerance policy on this. You need to be vaccinated to come to the office. And you need to be vaccinated to work in the field, with other employees, regardless of whether you enter an office or not. Period. We expect that in the weeks ahead, showing proof of vaccination may become a formal part of the WarnerMedia Passcard process. Regardless, our expectations remain in place.

There have also been some changes to masking policies in recent weeks. As of today, masks are required in our Los Angeles, Washington DC, and Atlanta workspaces. This means that unless you are eating, drinking, or in an enclosed private space with the door shut, you need to wear a mask indoors regardless of your vaccination status. Local guidance in New York was only a recommendation for masking, therefore we are not mandating it. But it goes without saying that even in places that we don’t mandate it, anyone who wants to wear a mask should absolutely do so. These decisions can be very personal for people – no two situations are the same. Everyone should do what feels most comfortable for them, without any fear of retaliation or judgment from co-workers.

I think it is fair to say that we are all feeling a mix of anticipation, anxiety, frustration, confusion, and exasperation. All of that is to be expected. We all have decisions to make that impact so many aspects of our lives. I get it. If nothing else, the resilience and perseverance you all have shown for 18 months now needs to continue a little bit longer. But we will get there. Continue to take care of yourselves and each other. And I will share more updates just as soon as we have them.

Jeff

This article was printed from https://deadline.com/2021/08/cnn-fires-employees-vaccinations-covid-1234810040/