Los Angeles County’s sweeping mandate requiring all county employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 took effect at midnight on Oct. 8, leaving unvaccinated county employees uncertain of their fate.
Los Angeles Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda Solis issued an executive order in August mandating that all county workers be vaccinated by Oct. 8—an order which the rest of the board later ratified. Under the mandate, employees are to either be fully vaccinated or get a COVID-19 test each week and “eventually get vaccinated, unless they are exempted for health or religious beliefs,” Supervisor Sheila Kuehl told The Epoch Times in a previous interview.
However, many county employees who don’t intend to get vaccinated and aren’t eligible for medical or religious exemption will face suspension and eventual termination.
County Says Employees Who Don’t Vaccinate Will Be Terminated
A spokesperson for the county’s Chief Executive Office told The Epoch Times via email that all employees who haven’t provided proof of full vaccination and haven’t submitted a request for exemption will receive a notice of vaccine requirement.
“The notice will inform them that they have 45 days to register as fully vaccinated,” the spokesperson said. “Discipline for those who continue not to comply with the county’s policy face a 5-day suspension after 45 days and termination 30 days after that.”
On the law enforcement front, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said in a livestream on Oct. 7 that he won’t enforce the mandate for his employees, saying the mandate puts him in a difficult position where he faces losing more employees at a time when the police force is already struggling with staffing issues.
“I’m not forcing anyone. The issue has become so politicized,” Villanueva said. “There are entire groups of employees that are willing to be fired and laid off rather than get vaccinated, so I don’t want to be in a position to lose 5 to 10 percent of my workforce overnight on a vaccine mandate.”
In a press conference last month, Los Angeles Public Health Department (LAPHD) Director Barbara Ferrer said LAPHD employees will not be terminated for missing the Oct. 1 vaccination deadline but instead will be “reassigned” until they’re fully vaccinated or receive a religious or medical exemption.
“We’ll be working with those that are not fully vaccinated to make sure that they’re not violating the health officer order,” Ferrer said. “And that is not by terminating people.”
County Employee Reactions
The vaccine requirement has sparked outrage from people who say the county’s mandate violates their individual and health freedoms.
Last week, five county employees sued the city over the vaccine mandate, claiming that the county’s mandate is “unconstitutional” and saying that the exemptions are not enough.
“The county must consider and offer reasonable accommodations as a middle ground between individual freedoms and collective rights,” the lawsuit stated. “It did not do that. Instead, it viewed this sensitive personal issue through the lens of partisan politics.”
One of the lawsuit’s plaintiffs, the nonprofit PERK group, said in a media alert on Oct. 6 that more than 4,000 individuals across 55 departments of first responders and public workers oppose the vaccine mandate.
PERK group didn’t respond to a request for comment by press time.