LA City Firefighters Sue to Block Vaccine Mandate

A lawsuit filed by a non-profit organization representing 529 Los Angeles city firefighters has filed suit against the city seeking to challenge its vaccine mandate.  The mandate adopted August 16, 2021 requires all City employees report their vaccination status to the city by October 19, 2021, and be vaccinated or obtain an exemption by October 20, 2021.

FIREFIGHTERS4FREEDOM filed suit in Los Angeles County Superior Court seeking to block enforcement of the mandate. The suit alleges the vaccines are experimental, and enforcing the mandate violates the state constitution as well as being beyond the legal authority of the city council. Quoting from the complaint:

  • The Covid-19 pandemic has been running for more than a year and a half. For the majority of that time, schools were shut. Businesses were forced to close. Even government agencies operated “remotely,” meeting by phone or videoconference to conduct the public’s business.
  • But while others were inside protecting their own health, firefighters stepped to the frontlines of the pandemic, selflessly protecting citizens of this City.
  • For their trouble, 1079 Los Angeles City firefighters either contracted or were impacted by Covid—one-third of the entire force.
  • Aside from all else written below, these men and women have earned the right—through their willing acceptance of Covid risk in helping others—to have a say in whether to take the experimental Covid vaccines into their own bodies….
  • Notwithstanding, Firefighters are now pawns in a political chess match, ordered by thirteen politicians on the Los Angeles City Council to inject themselves with an experimental vaccine–over their objections–or lose their jobs.
  • As will be shown at the time of trial and in preliminary hearings, the City does not have the Constitutional authority to force anyone to take an experimental vaccine against his or her will without considering, and granting where possible, reasonable accommodations for those who chose to not take the vaccine.
  • The City does not have that power as an employer. It does not have that power as the sovereign. It does not have that power under normal times, nor during an emergency.
  • The City’s vaccine mandate violates the Firefighters’ right to privacy under the California Constitution. The California Constitution provides an explicit constitutional privacy right (compared to the implicit privacy right under the federal constitution) that has been applied to invalidate similar intrusions of a person’s bodily integrity.
  • To satisfy the California Constitution, the City must consider and offer reasonable accommodations as a middle ground between individual freedoms and collective rights.
  • It did not do that. Instead, the City Council viewed this sensitive personal issue through the lens of partisan politics, saying they “want[ ] a vaccinated workforce.”
  • The California Constitution requires far more than that before invading the bodily integrity of thousands of public employees, who the public depends on.

Here is a copy of the complaint:

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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