CNN has fired three employees who showed up to work without getting a covid-19 vaccine, according to reports from multiple news outlets. The firings happened last week but were only announced during an all-staff memo by CNN bosses on Thursday, according to Reuters.
“In the past week, we have been made aware of three employees who were coming to the office unvaccinated. All three have been terminated,” the memo from CNN president Jeff Zucker said 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 continued.
CNN had been using the honor system to determine who was vaccinated and who was not, but Zucker said that CNN’s internal security pass, operated by its parent company WarnerMedia, might soon be linked in a way that proves an employee is vaccinated. Presumably, this would mean showing your vaccination card to security so that it becomes part of the employee’s internal security record.
“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 explained.
The U.S. has seen a surge in covid-19 cases as the Delta variant of the virus makes its way through the unvaccinated population. The U.S. reported over 127,000 new cases of covid-19 on Thursday alone and 574 deaths.
Zucker touched on the topic of masks, which have been hotly debated as the CDC flip flops on its recommendations for vaccinated people.
“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,” Zucker wrote.
“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,” Zucker continued.
While it’s great that CNN is mandating the covid-19 vaccine, it’s not clear where the three terminated employees worked or whether they were given the opportunity to appeal their firings. But with America’s extremely weak worker rights laws, there’s virtually no chance those people will have any avenue for redress.
Employers across the country are free to do a lot of things, including any requirement that employees be vaccinated against diseases. When it comes to covid-19 that’s a great thing. But workers definitely suffer under at-will employment in plenty of other areas.