Three CNN employees have been fired for showing up to the office without being vaccinated against COVID-19, according to reports.
“In the past week, we have been made aware of three employees who were coming to the office unvaccinated. All three have been terminated,” CNN’s president, Jeff Zucker, wrote in an internal memo obtained by The New York Times.
“EVERYONE from news, sports and studios who comes in now and going forward must be vaccinated,” the memo read, according to Deadline.
“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.”
Zucker indicated that the honor system may soon become a thing of the past at WarnerMedia, CNN’s parent company.
“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,” Zucker wrote.
He also said CNN has decided U.S. employees will not return to the office en masse on Sept. 7 as planned.
“We always said that we would be flexible with our decisions on all of this,” he wrote. “This is another example of that. As new information is made available, we are constantly evaluating our decisions.”
Should companies force employees to get vaccinated?
Zucker said the company has no hard-and-fast date set for a return to in-person work, but that “early to mid-October seems reasonable at this point.”
He also said CNN employees in Washington, Los Angeles and Atlanta are required to wear masks in the office.
“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,” he wrote.
“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 Society of Human Resource Managers on Wednesday shared the thoughts of various experts on the legality and advisability of workplace vaccine mandates.
“An employee with a religious objection or a disability may need to be excused from the mandate or otherwise accommodated,” said John Lomax, an attorney in Phoenix.
“If an employee cannot get vaccinated because of a disability or sincerely held religious belief, and there is no reasonable accommodation possible, an employer could exclude the employee from physically entering the workplace,” said Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., president and CEO of the SHRM.
“But this doesn’t mean an individual can be automatically terminated. Employers will need to determine if any other rights apply under the [Equal Employment Opportunity] laws or other federal, state and local authorities.”