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CNN Said It Fired Three Staffers Who Came to Office Unvaccinated

CNN sign outside press conference for the WBA Super Lightweight Championship at State Farm Arena on May 20, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia.
(Image credit: Prince Williams/Getty Images)

CNN said it fired three staffers who returned to the network’s offices unvaccinated, violating its policies. 

In a memo to staff, WarnerMedia News and Sports chairman Jeff Zucker said CNN had been operating on the honor system by not requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination from employees returning to the office.

“In the past week, we have been made aware of three employees who were coming to the office unvaccinated. All three have been terminated,” Zucker said. He did not name the staffers or say where they worked.

“Let me be clear — we have a zero-tolerance policy on this,“ he said. ”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.” 

Zucker noted that staffers also have to observe changes in policies regarding masks. Masks are required in CNN’s Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta facilities, regardless of vaccinations status, unless one is eating, drinking or in a private space with the door closed.

“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,” he said. 

CNN had planned to require staffers to return to work in person on Sept. 7, but Zucker said that date has been postponed

“Based on the information that is available today, and what experts expect to evolve with the virus in the weeks ahead, September 7 no longer feels appropriate,” Zucker said. “As new information is made available, we are constantly evaluating our decisions.”

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting + Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.