Firefighters4Freedom Foundation, a California non-profit foundation, has filed with and on behalf of 539 Los Angeles City Firefighters a complaint to block the City’s mandatory Covid vaccination ordinance. The complaint can be read here.
The introduction to the complaint is as follows:
- 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; particularly where: (a) reasonable accommodations clearly exist for a middle-ground solution between privacy rights and public rights, and (b) current evidence suggests current vaccines may actually exacerbate spread of the Delta variant of the Covid virus, not stop it.
- 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.
- And, to be clear, Covid-19 no longer poses the immediate threat to that it may have posed last spring. Covid data for Los Angeles County posted Sept. 11, 2021, showed a 37% decrease in new cases and a 26.14% decrease in new hospital admissions. Further, as of September 12, 2021, Los Angeles Metro System returned to pre-pandemic service levels. Even the Governor has rescinded 90 percent of his emergency Covid orders. There is no basis for the City’s rushed and ill-conceived mandate.
- 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.
- Even if the City had the power to order forced vaccinations of its employees or residents, (which it does not) it must show that forced vaccination is the least restrictive way to mitigate the effects of Covid-19. The City cannot show that because the evidence does not support that finding. In fact, there is mounting evidence that the vaccine does not prevent the virus from spreading and may only provide protection against serious illness, a benefit that does little, if anything, for firefighters. Thus, the vaccine mandate is both unnecessary and ineffective in protecting the public.
- These are not trivial concerns. The Covid-19 vaccines may—or may not—be safe for most people. We won’t know if they are safe until, at minimum, the 20 primary clinical trials underway to answer this very question are completed and time has passed to assess long-term effects.
- As of August 31, 2021, 477,447 adverse reactions have been reported to the Department of Health and Human Services, many in otherwise healthy people (https://VAERS.hhs.gov). These statistics include 6,112 deaths, 7,829 life threatening illnesses and 28,035 hospitalizations. The people of Los Angeles cannot afford to put their firefighters at additional health risk when the force is already depleted and inadequately staffed. The people of Los Angeles cannot afford to lose the large percentage of their firefighters that the City has threatened to fire if they do not get a Covid shot, especially during the peak of fire season.
- Firefighters4Freedom brings this action for declaratory and injunctive relief to declare the City’s vaccine mandate unlawful and to enjoin the City from enforcing it.