A familiar face in Cheyenne news has been fired after failing to comply with her employer's COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

"I've made the decision to not allow Gray TV to control my personal choices," longtime KGWN-TV anchor Kerri Hayden posted on Facebook Sunday afternoon. "I did not comply with their vaccine mandate after my exemption request was denied, therefore I was terminated."

Hayden says she sent in a religious/medical exemption on Aug. 23 after receiving an email saying all Gray employees had to be vaccinated, effective Oct. 1.

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"HR in Atlanta emailed Aug. 26 and said, 'We'll let you know as soon as possible if a reasonable accommodation can be made for you,'" said Hayden. "I didn't hear anything again until Sept. 24 when they said, 'Oh, it's denied and your last day is next Friday."

Hayden says had Gray not taken a month to deny her exemption, she would have had time to figure out whether to go ahead and get the vaccine.

"To deny me five days before the deadline -- I can't go be fully vaccinated in five days to keep my job," said Hayden.

"And it sounds to me like I kind of got lucky," she added. "A lot of people I've talked to were called in Friday (and) fired without even knowing what the status of their exemption was."

Hayden says that was the case for recent KGWN hire Rachel Saurer, who reported and did weekend weather for the station, as well as hundreds of Gray employees nationwide.

"Out of everybody I've talked to, a lot of Gray people, they haven't accepted or approved anybody, not one exemption throughout the whole country," said Hayden.

A phone message left with Gray's HR department on Tuesday was not immediately returned.

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