LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Nearly 600 Los Angeles County firefighters are suing over the county's requirement that its employees be vaccinated against COVID-19.
A lawsuit filed on behalf of LA County Free Foundation, a nonprofit representing 574 firefighters and other employees, alleges that the county's vaccine mandate violates the firefighters' constitutionally-protected autonomous privacy rights.
The lawsuit seeks a court order that would prohibit enforcement of the county vaccination order against any firefighter and also direct the county to offer reasonable accommodations to firefighters so they can continue working without being immunized. It also asks a judge to direct there be no discrimination or retaliation against firefighters who do not get vaccinated.
A representative for the county could not be reached for comment.
The county's vaccine mandate went into effect on Oct. 1. The policy required non-vaccinated employees to receive a COVID shot within 45 days of written notification of the immunization requirement. Non-compliant employees could face disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
The Los Angeles County Fire Department is not the only local public agency with a contingent of employees resisting the county's vaccination requirement. LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva says his force could be severely depleted if the county continues to enforce the vaccine mandate.
But Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis says she's heard from constituents, including those employed by the sheriff's department, who are disappointed in his position on the vaccine.
"We now have over a year's worth of data that overwhelmingly show that these vaccines are safe, effective, and can help reduce transmission – they are our key to ending this pandemic," she said in a statement. "Instead of being an obstacle, I encourage the Sheriff to work with us and help provide education and outreach to those who remain unvaccinated, so we can ensure their safety and the health of those around them, and finally put this pandemic behind us."
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)
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