20 Law Enforcement Employees Sue LAUSD Over Vaccine Mandate

20 Law Enforcement Employees Sue LAUSD Over Vaccine Mandate
An employee of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) receives her COVID-19 vaccination at a site opened by the LAUSD for its employees in Los Angeles, Calif., on Feb. 17, 2021. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)
City News Service

LOS ANGELES—Twenty school law enforcement officers are suing Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), alleging they were either wrongfully fired or facing termination despite filing for exemptions to the district's coronavirus vaccination mandate for employees.

The plaintiffs in the Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit brought on Monday are a mix of school safety officers, police officers, police detectives, senior police officers, a lieutenant, a sergeant, and a school safety officer sergeant. They seek compensatory damages as well as reinstatement to their previous positions if they were fired.

"The medical consensus at this point in time is that being vaccinated against COVID-19 does not preclude one from acquiring COVID-19, but rather lessens the symptoms for the unvaccinated," the suit states. "The district disregarded, out of hand, all religious beliefs, and enforced their policy to the detriment of the plaintiffs," the suit alleges.

The plaintiffs are Jose Cardenas, Shawn Workman, Angel Frias, Jared Gilmore, Juan Romo, Leopoldo Gil, Aaron Gray, Marc Salazar, Sergio Salas, Branden Hamada, Harold Salazar, Clifford Herrera, Sally Moctezuma, Andrea Magana, Jose Avalos, Donyann Morgan, Christopher Moreno, Shaun Luciano, Cheron Bartee, and Melanie Guevara.

An LAUSD spokeswoman did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Last August, the district adopted a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy for all employees, including the plaintiffs, requiring all workers to be vaccinated by Oct. 18 or face being fired.

The previous LAUSD policy required all students and employees to test every week, mask indoors and outdoors and socially distance, a regimen likely acceptable to 99 percent of all other Los Angeles County employers, the suit states.

"These were acceptable, successful, working accommodations for employees for the past two years, since the start of the pandemic," the suit states. "To that end, they were acceptable, successful, working conditions, and remain today as such, for almost every other employer in Los Angeles County."

Each plaintiff submitted to the district a request for an exemption and accommodation from the district's vaccination policy and provided the requested supporting information and documentation, but each request was denied by the district "in summary fashion," the suit states. "The so-called interactive meetings to discuss whether each plaintiff was entitled to an exemption and an accommodation each lasted approximately 15 minutes in total."

Some plaintiffs gave in and obtained the vaccination because they could not afford to lose their job and still support their family, so they are suing because they were coerced to waive and give up their rights, the suit states.

Other plaintiffs were fired, and still more are on medical leave but have been told that they will be terminated when they return if they are still unvaccinated, according to the suit.