RI Court Rejects Firefighters Vaccine Mandate Challenge

A Superior Court judge has rejected a request by the Rhode Island State Association of Firefighters for an injunction to block the state health department from implementing a COVID19 vaccine mandate. The suit filed earlier this month sought an injunction against the state’s planned COVID19 vaccine requirement on the grounds that it violates collective bargaining laws by imposing a mandatory condition of employment on firefighters.

The state’s vaccine mandate goes into effect October 1, 2021 and applies to all Department of Health licensed health care workers including EMTs and paramedics. Unvaccinated personnel risk losing their state licensing, which in turn could lead to their terminations.

The firefighters’ contention was that under the Firefighters’ Arbitration Act, any changes to working conditions or conditions of employment had to be negotiated. They also claimed the mandate violated the home rule charters of certain municipalities.

Judge Melissa E. Darigan disagreed. A copy of her ruling is not available but will be posted here when it becomes available. More on the RI story.

In other news, six Naperville, Illinois firefighters filed suit to challenge their vaccine mandate. More.

Here are a couple more articles on the rash of anti-vaccine lawsuits firefighters are filing across the country.

Firefighters Pushing Back Against Vaccine Mandates

Why Some Los Angeles Firefighters Are Suing Over the Vaccine Mandate

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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