WWE denies unnamed employee's claim of COVID-19 safety violations

Yahoo Sports

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.

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.

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.

The WWE has continued to film in Florida after the governor deemed it 'essential.' (AP Photo/John Raoux)
The WWE has continued to film in Florida after the governor deemed it 'essential.' (AP Photo/John Raoux)

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