ESPN reporter leaving network after refusing COVID-19 vaccine
By Matt Collins Article may include affiliate links
An ESPN reporter who previously announced she would take time off after opting not to get vaccinated against COVID-19 is now leaving the network.
“Effective next week, I will be separated from the company,” said Williams on an Instagram post.
“I’ve had to really dig deep and analyze my values, my morals and ultimately, I need to put them first … Ultimately, I cannot put a paycheck over principle,” she also says.
Williams announced she opted to be sidelined from covering events for the network September 2021, saying she didn’t want to get the vaccine because she and her husband are trying to have a second child.
There is little scientific evidence that the COVID-19 vaccination causes any issues with fertility, despite some high profile anecdotal — and unconfirmed — social media posts to the contrary. Emerging research is finding that falling ill with COVID-19 can have long term side effects on fertility, among other issues, making the argument to get vaccinated all the more important, especially for those trying to or wanting to have children someday, say experts.
Williams said that her request for accommodation was denied by Disney. Disney did not comment to numerous outlets on Williams’ status.
There are numerous court cases, including a Supreme Court one, that have found that employees can require employees to have vaccinations as long as exemptions are made for those with medical issues that contraindicate a shot or with sincerely held religious views (no major U.S. religion has objections to vaccines, and numerous denominations have come to reiterate support of them during the pandemic).
Disney status as a large employer with over 100 workers means it will be subject to a federal vaccine mandate that requires workers to get vaccinated or show proof of testing.
Companies can make their requirements stricter, and Disney is not offering the testing option.
Terms of Williams’ departure were not announced, but in general employees who refuse to be vaccinated can be terminated for cause, which generally means they are not eligible for unemployment benefits.
While Williams’ contract is not public, many talent contracts permit networks to terminate employees’ contracts without penalty under these types of circumstances, meaning, unless she was able to negotiate an exit deal, she likely wouldn’t be entitled to any remaining value on her deal with ESPN.
Coronavirus vaccines and boosters are highly recommended by multiple public health officials and experts. COVID-19 vaccines and boosters have undergone extensive testing and monitoring to ensure their safety. Scientific research has shown the vaccines and boosters to be very safe and highly effective in decreasing the likelihood of contracting the illness and, if one does become sick, symptoms are less severe and less likely to lead to hospitalization or death. For more information about COVID-19 and coronavirus, visit the CDC website. You can locate a free vaccination site or clinic near you at Vaccines.gov. As with any medical decision, you should always discuss your options with your doctor.