Local news reporter says she was fired for refusing company's vaccine requirement

A local news reporter from Springfield, Mo., says she was fired from the TV station where she worked for more than a decade after the outlet's parent company denied her request for an exemption from its coronavirus vaccine requirement. 

Linda Simmons, who worked at KY3 for 13 years, said in social media postings and media interviews that she notified Gray Television of her objection to taking a vaccine in August. 

"I value the freedom we all have to make our own informed decisions," Simmons said in a Facebook post on Friday. "I’ve made a big decision and decided not to allow the company that owns KY3, Gray Television, to control my personal health choices. I did not comply with their vaccine mandate after my exemption request was denied. I will miss you all, and I am sad to be leaving this way, but I have confidence that I am doing God’s will for me." 

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During an interview on local radio, Simmons said that after Gray Television notified all employees about its decision to require vaccines in the workplace, she applied for an exemption the same week, the Kansas City Star reported

Simmons said she had a “sinking feeling” after learning her request had been denied and said she was one of three other employees at the station who were terminated over refusal to comply with the vaccine requirement.

In the August memo to employees, Gray Television reportedly said its executives had unanimously decided to require vaccines for all employees in the workplace, citing spiking coronavirus cases nationwide at the time.   

“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 company reportedly said in the memo. 

Simmons said she does not blame her bosses at KY3 for her firing, emphasizing in the radio interview the vaccine policy was being enforced by Gray Television, the Star reported. 

KY3 did not immediately return a request for comment.