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.
(Excerpt) Read more in: Deadline