Gray TV Requiring Employees To Be Vaccinated by Oct. 1

A doctor or researcher with a COVID-19 vaccine
(Image credit: sinology/Getty Images)

Gray Television sent staffers a memo telling them they need to get vaccinated, but other station groups haven't taken that step yet.

According to the memo, effective Sept. 15, Gray will require “as a condition of employment, that every employee who occupies a ‘manager’ position in our company be ‘fully vaccinated’ against the Coronavirus.”

All full-time and part-time employees, outside contractors, tenants and guests who enter Gray workspaces are required to be "fully vaccinated" as of Oct. 1.

“At Gray Television, we continue to make the health and safety of our employees our highest priority. Unfortunately, as everyone knows, the COVID-19 public health crisis is getting worse in too many communities across the country,” the memo said, signed by the Gray Leadership Team.

“We know that the approved COVID-19 vaccines are extremely effective in preventing serious illness and reducing the spread of the coronavirus. After extensive discussion among the GMs and officers this week, these individuals UNANIMOUSLY concluded that the increasingly rapid spread of the coronavirus poses an unfair risk to fellow employees and their family members who are not eligible to get vaccinated," the memo said.

While some American businesses are starting to mandate that their employees get vaccinated as the delta variant spreads, other station groups aren’t yet requiring that their staffers take the shot.

“At Nexstar we are telling our local station’s leadership to follow CDC and state/local guidelines regarding workplace safety protocols,” a spokesperson for the company said.

“Hearst Television is encouraging all employees to get vaccinated and as of this week introduced a practice requiring proof of vaccination or a negative test on a weekly basis. We will continue to revisit and revise our protocols as necessary in each of our markets,” a Hearst spokesperson said.

At E.W. Scripps Co., all employees -- vaccinated and unvaccinated -- are required to wear a mask in Scripps buildings when walking around or in proximity to someone less than seven feet away, a spokesperson said. Employees who are not fully vaccinated must keep their masks on at all times while in the company’s buildings.

Gray, in its memo said it will pay non-exempt employees for time spent receiving the vaccination, although any scheduling changes need to be approved by the employee’s supervisor.

“We will grant reasonable accommodations and short extensions of the deadline where warranted,” the memo noted.

Also read: Gray TV Agrees to Pay $925 Million For Quincy Media 

Gray’s position on vaccinations has been evolving.

On Aug. 6, Gray said that effective Sept. 1 it would require, as a condition of employment, that all newly higher employees be fully vaccinated. That included both full-time and part-time employees.

“Here at Gray, our workforce has started to experience a small yet increasing number of ‘breakthrough’ infections of the fully vaccinated, apparently as a result of the Delta variant. Importantly, these cases are not resulting in the same level of serious symptoms, illness, or hospitalizations as those experienced by our unvaccinated employees. Nevertheless, they are a source of significant concern for us because fully vaccinated employees who contract the Delta variant of the coronavirus may be able to transmit this more dangerous variant to other individuals, including those unable to get vaccinated in the same household such as children and those with compromised immune systems,” the memo said. 

“We are not adopting a broader vaccination mandate for all current employees at this time. As we have done since the start of the pandemic, Gray Television’s leadership will continue to monitor closely the crisis and continue to adjust our coronavirus policies and protocols as necessary until this crisis is finally behind us,” the memo said at the time.

Experts have said that private employers and government agencies are legally able to require employees to get vaccinated as a condition of working there.

FTVlive first reported on the Gray memo and on Gray's earlier decision about new hires being fully vaccinated.

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.