An anonymous WWE employee voiced safety concerns regarding the company’s taped shows to the Orange County (Fla.) Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday.
WWE has continued to tape shows without an audience at the Orlando Performance Center during the COVID-19 crisis. It even got the support of Gov. Ron DeSantis, who deemed the WWE an “essential business” and void of the “safer-at-home” regulations.
Update (Wednesday): The WWE released the following statement regarding the claims:
"These accusations aren’t true. Employees know they can confidentially go to Human Resources, not the public. Notwithstanding the appropriate protocol, no one would be fired if they were uncomfortable with their surroundings. We’ve made accommodations for individuals upon request."
Employee says forced to work by WWE
A WWE employee who is going by “John” submitted a concern to the record of the Orange County Board of County Commissioners meeting.
At Tuesday's Orange County Board of County Commissioners meeting, a #WWE employee named "John" submitted public comment they're being "forced to work" TV tapings despite stay at home orders. Says he's unable to speak out and feels he will be fired if he approaches his higher-ups. pic.twitter.com/UJTvX1RGc7
— Jon Alba (@JonAlba) April 21, 2020
The employee’s statement, per the board:
“My employer, World Wrestling Entertainment, aka WWE, is forcing me to work the TV tapings for its weekly shows despite home orders for coronavirus. I am unable to speak out as I need this job and I know I will be fired if I approach my higher-ups.
“Despite sanitary precautions, we cannot maintain social distancing and have to touch other people. I request the government to shut down these tapings and enforce the stay-at-home order so my colleagues and I may follow social distancing rules without fear or repercussions of losing our jobs.”
Jon Alba of Spectrum Sports 360 in Orlando/Tamp noted on Twitter that while it’s difficult to verify the complaint, the concern has been voiced privately before.
While there isn't really way to verify this is 100% absolutely a #WWE employee given the nature of the complaint, it should be noted there have been several within the company who have expressed concern, many privately, over the tapings continuing.
— Jon Alba (@JonAlba) April 21, 2020
WWE deemed ‘essential business’
The WWE continued to hold wrestling events in Orlando in violation of the state’s “safer-at-home” order, drawing warnings from sheriff’s deputies. They told the business to shut down in late March and early April, per Alba and Stephanie Coueignoux of My News 13.
Days afterward on April 9 DeSantis signed an addendum to the law that allows the WWE to keep operating without having to strictly comply with social distancing protocols, per the report. The office defended it by saying sports and media production employees are “critical to Florida’s economy” and thereby “essential.”
WWE has continued to film at its performance center and is temperature screening everyone who comes into the building. WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon said they are doing “pandemic-level cleaning” to protect everyone. And WWE talent told Yahoo’s Anthony Sulla-Heffinger that participation was voluntary.
WWE employee tested positive for coronavirus
An on-screen talent employee who is not a member of the roster tested positive last month for coronavirus, the company said a few weeks ago. The person made a complete recovery, WWE said, and did not have any contact with anyone from WWE after being exposed.
WWE said TV production had already closed for the day, then the person and a roommate were exposed to people working in acute health care.
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