An employee of WWE has spoken out about working conditions at the company's weekly television tapings and broadcasts, asking the government in Florida to shut the company down so employees can practice social distancing without fear of losing their jobs. The news was first reported by journalist Jon Alba, who notes the employee, going by the name "John," submitted a public comment on WWE's TV tapings claiming WWE is forcing employees to work them and that he fears retaliation if he complains. "John," says that WWE's tapings make it impossible to practice social distancing.
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
"My employer, World Wrestling Entertainment, aka WWE, is forcing me to work at TV tapings for its weekly shows despite stay-at-home orders for coronavirus," the comment, read at a meeting of the Orange County Board of County Commissioners. "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 so my colleagues and I may follow social distancing rules without fear or repercussion of losing our jobs."
WWE obtained a special exemption from the government of Florida as an "essential" business on the same day that a Republican super PAC run by Linda McMahon pledged to spend $18.5 million in the state to ensure Donald Trump is reelected later this year. After obtaining the exemption, WWE resumed regular tapings and live broadcasts of its weekly television shows. However, the company also laid off or furloughed dozens of wrestlers and backstage talent, along with an unknown number of office and live event staff. The layoffs came the same day WWE boasted of $500 million in cash reserves to weather the pandemic, and one day before WWE announced a dividend for investors of $9.4 million, which could have paid all the laid-off workers into 2021. Vince McMahon himself is entitled to $3.5 million of the dividend. It's no surprise, under those circumstances, that WWE employees would fear speaking out about conditions lest they are declared nonessential themselves.