COVID vaccines no longer required for LA city employees

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Tuesday, June 11, 2024
LA ends COVID vaccine mandate for city workers
The ruling creates a pathway back to employment for workers who were fired for not getting vaccinated. They can reapply for their positions, but there are no guarantees.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- In the throes of a pandemic, the city of Los Angeles passed a controversial COVID-19 vaccination mandate. City employees were told that if they wanted to keep their jobs, they had to be up to date with their shots.

On Tuesday, that mandate became history. The City Council voted unanimously to end COVID vaccine requirements for city workers.

But for one group of employees, that move comes years too late to save their jobs.

"It's been two years, nine months and 22 days since this city intentionally and willfully devastated the lives of its dedicated employees. You stripped careers and commands from your LAPD officers and your LAFD firefighters," said attorney Jennifer Kennedy, one of some 15 people who spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting.

Kennedy says she represents hundreds of firefighters, police officers and other workers who are suing the city of Los Angeles because they were fired for refusing to get vaccinated.

Former LAPD Sgt. Janine Bedard says she was terminated after serving 24 years in the department.

"I was advised a new condition of employment was that I needed to be vaccinated. If I was not I could possibly suffer severe injury or even death. I was shamed and told I was a public health risk and I could not complete my duties as a sergeant if I was not vaccinated," Bedard said at the meeting.

The ordinance passed Tuesday creates a pathway back to employment for workers terminated for not getting vaccinated, and others who may have left voluntarily. Workers can reapply for their positions, but there are no guarantees.

The former workers behind the lawsuit are also asking for back-pay and damages.

The city of Los Angeles withdrew its declaration of emergency due to COVID-19 in February 2023. In May 2023, the federal government also declared an end to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

In 2023, several Southern California cities have phased out their requirements for workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of employment, including Long Beach, San Diego and Pasadena. In addition, Los Angeles County, Orange County and the University of California system as well as the Los Angeles Unified School District have also ended that requirement.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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