Two Beverly Hills firefighters have filed a lawsuit against the California city as well as Los Angeles County over COVID-19 vaccine mandates for first responders and healthcare workers, claiming that they are “experimental gene modification therapies.”
The suit was filed Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court on behalf of firefighters Josh Sattley and Ettore Berardinelli Jr., as well as the organization Protection for the Educational Rights of Kids, naming the city, Councilman John Mirich, L.A. County, and L.A. County Health Officer Muntu Davis as defendants, the Los Angeles Times reported.
According to the report, the mandate requires that healthcare workers and first responders must provide proof they’ve been vaccinated or that they have applied for a medical or religious exemption. The suit also claims that Beverly Hills does not have the authority to require the vaccine.
“Firefighters and other first responders have served courageously throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” said plaintiffs’ attorney Scott Street, according to the Times.
“They were on the front lines when others sheltered in place. They earned the right to be heard but, in enforcing the County’s unlawful mandate, the City of Beverly Hills has largely ignored them and put politics before facts,” he added.
Beverly Hills chief communications officer Keith Sterling told the Times that “the work of emergency first responders puts them on the front lines of patient care.”
“While we have not yet seen the lawsuit, the City remains committed to protecting the health of our residents and visitors during this ongoing pandemic,” he noted further.
The Times added that the Beverly Hills Firefighters Association encourages members to get a COVID-19 vaccine but adds that the jab is a personal choice.
The suit states that eight of at least 22 firefighters who sought a religious exemption have thus far been denied, including Sattley, who has continued to refuse the vaccine and was summarily put on unpaid leave. In addition, he maintains that the city has not given him a chance to challenge the suspension, which he claims in the lawsuit is a violation of his due process rights, the Times reported.
The lawsuit also alleges that the mandate issued by Davis was arbitrary and capricious because he did not consider evidence regarding the vaccine’s effectiveness or the costs of the mandate, which could include short- and long-term side effects that have reportedly been linked to them, ABC7 reported.
“These actions are blatantly unlawful,” the suit claims. “Muntu Davis does not have the authority to order thousands of workers to get a medical treatment. The city does not have that power either.”
“It subjected firefighters who requested a religious exemption, like Mr. Sattley and Mr. Berardinelli, to cross-examination designed to undermine their credibility and to pressure them, under threat of prosecution, to give up their religious freedom and get the shot,” the suit adds.
“Questioning the sincerity of one’s religious beliefs to deny a request for an exemption to the mandate constitutes religious discrimination and violates federal and state civil rights laws,” the suit continues. “It also violates the mandate itself.”
Moreover, the city and county “should not be in the business of cross-examining people about their religious beliefs,” it adds.
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