D.C. Superior Court Judge Maurice Ross ruled Thursday that D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s mandated vaccinations for Washington, D.C. city government workers, is unlawful.
“It is undisputed that the Mayor has a strong interest in combating the spread of Covid-19,” the judge’s order obtained by The Washington Post reads. “However, our system does not permit the Mayor to act unlawfully even in the pursuit of desirable ends.”
The judge’s ruling comes after the D.C. Police Union filed a lawsuit in opposition to the vaccine mandate after a wild legal ride over Bowser’s severe mandates since 2021.
The order adds that Bowser is “permanently enjoined from implementing, imposing and/or enforcing the COVID-19 vaccine mandate … against the plaintiffs.”
D.C. Police Union Chairman Gregg Pemberton called the order a “significant victory” in protecting the rights of law enforcement.
It was a “long and unnecessary fight,” responded Pemberton.
“Had the Mayor just engaged the Union in good faith bargaining, we could have reached a reasonable compromise that protected everyone’s interests,” Pemberton said.
“Nonetheless, we are pleased that Judge Ross agreed with our arguments and issued this ruling. Now, all of our members can go back to doing the necessary work of trying to protect our communities from crime and violence without unlawful threats of discipline and termination.”
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About 90 percent of D.C.’s city employees were fully or partially vaccinated by the end of March 2022.
Bowser set the mandates in place in August 2021, and ordered all District employees to provide proof of vaccination by September 19, 2021.
Workers had to get vaccinated or secure a medical or religious exemption, and then agree if not vaccinated to get weekly testing for COVID, or face suspension or termination.
By December 2021, Bowser issued another motion directing city administrators to create a new plan to remove the test-out option.
Then in early 2022, Bowser requested DC Council to extend the emergency legislation requiring the vaccine mandate.
DC Council did not extend it.
In January 2022, the D.C. Department of Human Resources informed employees that everyone would be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID, including any booster shots when eligible by Feb. 15, 2022.
Judge Ross has ordered that all disciplinary actions started, proposed or taken due to the vaccine mandate “shall immediately cease and be dismissed with full reimbursement to be provided to all FOP members for any loss of benefits, pay, or rights and all related disciplinary proceedings to be expunged from their records.”
“A vaccine mandate is not an everyday exercise of power,” court documents read. “It is instead a significant encroachment into the life—and health—of an employee.”
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