CNN fires three employees for showing up to work unvaccinated against COVID-19

On Thursday, CNN Chief Jeff Zucker sent a memo to staff members, telling them three employees had been fired after coming to work unvaccinated against COVID-19, violating company policy.

In the memo, Zucker also reminded employees that vaccinations are mandatory for those who report to the office our in the field where they encounter other employees, but no details were released about the firings including how CNN was “made aware” of the violation or where those staff members were located (The Washington Post). Zucker, who is the chairman of news and sports for WarnerMedia, wrote, “All three have been terminated. Let me be clear – we have a zero tolerance policy on this.”

NPR reports that the majority of CNN’s offices are open on a voluntary basis, and Zucker says over a third of news staff have returned so far. While employees are not required to show proof of vaccination, that may change. With the rise of the delta variant, Zucker says masks will additionally be required in Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Washington offices when employees are not eating, drinking, or in a private space.

He added that in offices where masking is not mandated, people should do what makes them most comfortable “without any fear of retaliation or judgment from co-workers.” The WarnerMedia network is one of the highest-profile employers in the U.S. to have fired workers for not complying with vaccine mandates.

Those who previously resigned or were terminated due to vaccine mandates primarily worked in the public or heath care sectors. These terminations may become a more common occurrence as employers – such as Google, Facebook, Uber, Morgan Stanley, and Tyson Foods – are increasingly mandating vaccinations for their workers.

President Biden announced last week that all federal employees and on-site contractors will either have to receive vaccinations or wear masks and undergo consistent testing. This policy comes as vaccination rates have stalled across the country, which many identify as the reason the delta variant has spread so widely, driving up infections and hospitalizations.

“[T]he fact is, if we had a higher vaccination rate, we wouldn’t be in this position,” said Biden. He continued, “If in fact you are unvaccinated, you present a problem – to yourself, to your family, and to those with whom you work.”

On August 2, The Washington Post reported that 70 percent of U.S. adults have received at least one shot, a benchmark which the Biden administration hoped to achieve one month ago. Among the 58 percent of those at least partially vaccinated for whom the racial or ethnic composition is known, KFF found that 61 percent were white, 17 percent were Hispanic, 12 percent were black, and 6 percent were Asian.


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