Hundreds of firefighters in Los Angeles have filed a notice of intent to sue the city over its public employee vaccine mandate.
The notice, filed on Oct. 7, said that the 871 firefighters are seeking $2.5 million each in damages.
“The claims will be filed in Superior Court as an unlimited civil case pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure,” Kevin McBride, attorney for the firefighters, wrote in the notice.
The Los Angeles City Council issued an ordinance (pdf) in August requiring all city employees to have had the second dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine, or a dose of the single-dose COVID-19 vaccine by Oct. 5, unless they have a medical or religious exemption.
“The city’s goal is to have a vaccinated workforce. As such, employees will not have the option to ‘opt out’ of getting vaccinated and become subject to weekly testing,” the ordinance reads.
The mayor’s office announced that exempt, unvaccinated employees would still be required to do regular testing for COVID-19.
Citing orders given to the firefighters from the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD), McBride said in the notice of intent that those not exempt or fully vaccinated by the “hard deadline” of Oct. 20 will be sent home for five days without pay, and if they still decide not to take the vaccine after another five days, their employment will be terminated.
The attorney wrote that the vaccination order is “blatantly wrongful conduct,” citing several reasons, including interference with employment rights, infliction of emotional distress, violation of constitutional privacy rights, and violation of the protection of human subjects in the medical experimentation act.
The plaintiffs are members of the United Firefighters of Los Angeles (UFLAC), which stated its position in an Oct. 4 bulletin.
“The city cannot impose any consequences relevant to the October 5 deadline” to be vaccinated for COVID-19. It also stated that the city’s ordinance “does not provide for any consequence, and any intended discipline must first be bargained with UFLAC.”
“Further, the city has not provided any notice to UFLAC that it intends to discipline employees for not meeting the October 5 deadline,” the bulletin reads.
The city has 45 days to evaluate the document, after which the suit is going to be filed immediately, The New York Times reported.
“The U.S. Supreme Court and courts across the country have upheld vaccine mandates … I’m confident we will prevail,” Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer said in a statement to KTLA.
Those who intend to sue the city make up about one in four of the city’s firefighters. According to the website of the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD), it has 3,435 fire personnel.