A Los Angeles Superior Court judge Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit brought by a group of Los Angeles firefighters over a city requirement that employees be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Judge Michael P. Linfield wrote that “courts have consistently held that government has the power to require vaccinations to protect the public’s health and safety.” He cited several cases, including a 1905 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that compulsory vaccinations are allowed under the Constitution.
The city last year made COVID-19 vaccination a requirement of employment , while also granting exemptions based on medical conditions or religious beliefs.
Both firefighters and police officers have unsuccessfully challenged the mandate and a federal judge in January dismissed a lawsuit by the police officers.
The firefighters’ lawsuit, filed in September , said the mandate violates their right to privacy under the California Constitution. The suit said the city doesn’t have the power to “order forced vaccinations of its employees or residents” and that “the vaccine mandate is both unnecessary and ineffective in protecting the public.”
John Howard, attorney for Firefighters 4 Freedom, called the judge’s decision a “political document, not a judicial opinion focused on applying the proper legal standard.”
“And it confirms the concerns we had about Judge Linfield’s ability to be impartial during the previous hearing in which he made similarly inflammatory comments,” Howard said.
In celebrating the ruling, City Atty. Mike Feuer said Tuesday that the overwhelming majority of the city’s first responders are vaccinated.
“It’s time for everyone in the city family to step up,” Feuer said.
Linfield wrote that the firefighters’ position calling the effectiveness of the vaccines “a disputed factual issue” is “contrary to case law, science, and common sense.”
As for privacy claims, Linfield wrote that the “city has not passed a law that requires everyone to be vaccinated.”
“The city simply passed a law saying that if a firefighter is not vaccinated — and the firefighter has not been given a religious or medical deferral from the vaccination — they cannot continue to work and be paid as a city employee.”
Source: Dakota Smith, Los Angeles Times