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Gainesville employees sue City over vaccine mandate

Press release from Childers Law, LLC

Over two hundred employees and contractors to the City of Gainesville filed suit Thursday, alleging that the City’s vaccine mandate violates state and federal law. The lawsuit claims that an internal memorandum obtained from the City suggests that a “catastrophic” level of terminations would bring the City’s infrastructure services to its knees. It asks for an immediate injunction and for the policy to be vacated.

Local attorney Jeff Childers filed the lawsuit on Thursday afternoon. “Just a few months ago, the City called these employees heroes while they were showing up every day and keeping the water, power, and emergency services running. Now the City calls them the problem,“ he said. The suit alleges that there is no immediate need for a short deadline for vaccination, and there are better alternatives available to the City, such as Florida’s new monoclonal antibody treatment centers.

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Employees who joined the suit include firefighters, police officers, electrical workers, and other city personnel. Some employees expressed concern about having had anaphylactic responses to other medical treatments in the past. Others said that they felt that the accelerated timeline for approval of the vaccines made them uneasy. Some of the employees who filed the suit have been vaccinated, but joined because they object to the City’s coercive tactics and believe that the decision of whether to take the vaccine should be an individual choice. Many employees said they had already recovered from COVID-19 and didn’t feel that the vaccines were necessary for them.

The suit is based on two main arguments. First, the employees argue that the City’s vaccine policy violates Florida‘s so-called “vaccine passport“ law that precludes government agencies from conditioning access to facilities and services on a person’s vaccination status. Second, the policy violates the employees‘ right to privacy and right to bodily integrity under the state and federal constitutions.

No hearing has been set yet, but a hearing date is expected to be announced soon. Under the City’s policy, the employees have until October 1 to be fully vaccinated or they will become subject to the City’s disciplinary process, which results in termination.

A copy of the complaint can be found here.

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