Nearly 11 Percent of Los Angeles City Employees to Seek Vaccine Exemptions

By Micaela Ricaforte
Micaela Ricaforte
Micaela Ricaforte
September 15, 2021 Updated: September 15, 2021

More than 6,000 people, or 11 percent, of Los Angeles city employees plan to seek an exemption from the city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, according to city data released on Sept. 14.

This comes after the Los Angeles City Council last month approved an ordinance to require city employees to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 5, with exemptions for medical or religious reasons. Exemptions will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. All city employees were required to report their vaccination status and whether they would be seeking exemptions by Sept. 13.

Roughly 48 percent of city employees are fully vaccinated, and 50 percent reported that they were at least partially vaccinated. A total of 23,000 city employees have not reported their vaccination status, while 5,688 said they were unvaccinated.

Nearly half of the 6,000 employees seeking exemptions come from the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), where 2,651 employees plan to file for religious exemptions, and 368 plan to file for medical exemptions.

LAPD Lawsuit

On Sept. 11, six LAPD employees filed a lawsuit in federal court against the city, claiming the city’s vaccine mandate violates their rights and that the LAPD failed to create a formal process to submit requests for medical or religious exemptions.

The suit claims the mandate violates the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which require medical or religious accommodation.

“Subjecting City employees to a new condition of employment—which neither they nor Plaintiffs contemplated when they were hired—forces them to choose between their livelihood, in a time of acute nationwide economic hardship, and preservation of their fundamental constitutional privacy rights to control self-disclosure of sensitive personal information,” the suit states.

The plaintiffs are asking the court to overturn the vaccine mandate and block the city from enforcing it.

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer responded to the LAPD employees’ lawsuit in a video on Sept. 13.

“It’s a lawsuit that I am confident we will win. The U.S. Supreme Court and courts across the country have upheld vaccination mandates by governments across the country and they’ve done so because they said that the greater good compels this right now,” Feuer said.

The State Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), which protects employees from discrimination and harassment in the workplace, has stated that an employer may require employees to receive an FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine as long as the employer complies with all state and federal laws.

Mandate Poses Employment Challenges

An LAPD officer spoke to The Epoch Times on agreement of anonymity in a previous interview.

The officer said the number of employees leaving due to the vaccine mandate may have a significant impact on the LAPD’s ability to serve the community.

According to the officer, the department has a total of 1,800 to 2,200 officers who respond to citizen calls, but on a typical night, they have fewer than 800 officers in the field. Training, vacation or duty-related injuries also makes 15 to 25 percent of officers unavailable at any given time.

“It takes at least five years for an officer to become proficient at their job,” the officer said. “Less than that, and they are placed with more senior officers to assist them in navigating the complexities of liability and a procedurally intense environment, not to mention, just being able to remain alive at the same time.”

If the LAPD were to lose an additional 3,000 employees or more, it would take at least five years to replace those losses, the officer said.