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Lawsuits & Litigation

Washington Workers Sue State Over Impending Vaccine Mandate

— September 24, 2021

By October 18th, many Washington residents working for the state, in public schools, or certain health care settings will have to be vaccinated.

Hundreds of Washington residents have joined a lawsuit challenging the state’s impending vaccine mandate.

According to KOMO News, Gov. Jay Inslee’s mandate will take effect on October 18th. While some 600 state and local workers have joined a lawsuit against the order, Gov. Inslee says he believes most people will get vaccinated without complaint.

“I believe, at the end of the day, people will decide to remain in public by and large,” Gov. Inslee said.

However, the lawsuit says that Gov. Inslee’s mandate is unconstitutional and asks a federal judge to order alternative protections. If such alternative protections are accepted by the court, unvaccinated workers may be able to wear masks or show negative coronavirus tests instead of getting inoculated.

But, when pressed about the large lawsuit, Gov. Inslee said alternatives to a vaccine mandate are half-measures.

“We’ve found that testing does not save people’s lives,” he said. “It is just not adequate to the task.”

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee in 2019. Image via Wikimedia Commons via Flickr/user:Gage Skidmore (CCA-BY-2.0).

Firefighter William Cleary, among the main plaintiffs, told KOMO News he does not believe it is fair that dedicated public servants could lose their jobs even if they have legitimate reasons to refuse the vaccine.

“We’ve put a lot of time and effort and really given a lot of the past year and a half during the COVID pandemic and then only [sic] to have it all ripped away on the 18th because we have something sincerely held or possible [sic] a medical reason to [not] take this vaccine,” Cleary said. “It should be a personal choice.”

Cleary said he is far from the only one reluctant to get the jab.

“Where I work, we are looking at losing up to 100, 150 people,” he said, adding that he personally applied for a religion exemption to the mandate because he believes it an issue of conscience.

“For me, it’s a matter of conscience, and so that’s basically what I focused on with mine—was my conscience, and if you listen to your conscience, it’s essentially listening to the word of God,” Cleary said.

Clearly told KING5 that his wife could also be affected by Gov. Inslee’s order; she is pregnant, and sought a medical exemption to avoid any potential complications.

However, his wife’s exemption request was denied, and she, too, is required to get vaccinated in order to keep her job.

While Cleary and his wife may appear to have conjured up flimsy reasons to avoid complying with Gov. Inslee’s order, their attorney, Nathan Arnold, argued that Gov. Inslee’s mandate is illegal, and that any such decision can only be made by the state legislature.

“Those are decisions that need to be made by the legislature in accordance with our state’s constitution, which is the supreme law of the land,” he said.

Meanwhile, the governor’s office has encouraged public servants to get vaccinated—but has nonetheless refused to back down, saying it will not extend its mid-October deadline.

“We hope that public servants and those who have made their careers around protecting the health and safety of the public will choose to do the right thing and get vaccinated. As for the lawsuit, we are confident that the governor’s proclamations are legally sound,” said Inslee spokesperson Tara Lee.


Hundreds join lawsuit challenging Washington’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for state, health care workers

Hundreds of Washington workers sign lawsuit against Gov. Inslee’s vaccine mandate

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