In company memo, CEO says there is ‘zero tolerance policy’ for reporting to the office without Covid-19 inoculation
CNN has fired three employees who violated company policy by coming to work unvaccinated against Covid-19.
Jeff Zucker, the media company’s president, told staff members of the firing in a memo sent on Thursday that reminded them that vaccines were mandatory if they report to the office or out in the field where they come into contact with other employees.
“Let me be clear – we have a zero tolerance policy on this,” wrote Zucker, chairman of news and sports for CNN’s parent company WarnerMedia, based in New York.
The memo was obtained by the Associated Press after its contents were first tweeted by CNN media reporter Oliver Darcy. CNN offered no details on the firings, or where the employees were based.
Most of CNN’s offices are already open on a voluntary basis, and Zucker said more than a third of news staff members have returned. Proof of vaccination has been left to the honor system, he said, but that may change in coming weeks.
The CNN leader said that masks will be required in Atlanta, Washington and Los Angeles offices when people aren’t eating, drinking or in an enclosed private space. Even in offices where mask-wearing is not mandated, people should do what feels comfortable to them “without any fear of retaliation or judgment from co-workers”, he said.
The CNN memo also said a planned 7 September company-wide return to the office will be delayed until at least early to mid-October. Other media companies have been making similar decisions because of the rise in Covid cases; the AP told employees on Thursday that an expected 13 September return has also been delayed.
Industries across the country are grappling with workplace policies on getting Covid-19 vaccines, which have been proven to be highly effective at preventing serious illness. In Silicon Valley, Google, Facebook and Uber recently announced mandatory vaccinations for those returning to the office, while New York City and California have moved to require all government workers be vaccinated or face regular testing.
United on Friday became the first US airline to make vaccination compulsory, for all its US employees at least.
The airline said employees would need to show proof of vaccination by a deadline set for five weeks after the US government drug regulator fully approves any of the three vaccines currently on emergency use status in the US – from Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson – with full approval expected soon.
And there is confusion among Wall Street banking firms, Bloomberg reported, with different companies such as Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan all having different and evolving policies over vaccination mandates, mask-wearing and confusion over office compulsory return dates.
Meanwhile, Joe Biden is considering using federal law to withhold funds from a variety of institutions, ranging from cruise ships to universities to care homes as a way of pressuring more Americans to get vaccinated and employees to mandate inoculation for their workers, the Washington Post reported.
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