Health

Washington state fire marshal joins lawsuit against vaccine mandate

By Austin Jenkins (OPB)
Sept. 28, 2021 6:29 p.m.

The list of public employees suing to overturn Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s vaccine mandate has grown to about 600 people, and now includes the state’s fire marshal, Charles LeBlanc.

The lawsuit was first filed earlier this month in Walla Walla County Superior Court. Plaintiffs include state troopers, correctional officers and firefighters who are required to be fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 by Oct. 18. Inslee issued the mandate on Aug. 9, and it does not offer a testing alternative. The governor has repeatedly said he doesn’t think regular COVID-19 testing is a safe or effective strategy to combat the virus, especially with vaccines now available.

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Now, in a declaration filed as part of the lawsuit, LeBlanc claims that he received a medical exemption after getting a letter from his doctor, but he says the state patrol, his employer, won’t grant him an accommodation because he’s a public-facing employee.

Employees who get an exemption, but not an accommodation, still face termination from their jobs.

Generally, courts have upheld employer-based vaccination requirements as constitutional.

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