Administration Pushes Back on Mandatory Vaccinations: No Halt to Firing Employees Seeking Exemptions

The administration would not agree that federal employee plaintiffs seeking exemption from mandatory vaccinations, will not be disciplined or separated while their appeals are pending.

Mandatory vaccinations have become a thorny political issue.

The mandatory vaccination mandate for federal employees issued via Executive Orders is being challenged in court in different lawsuits. With a deadline of November 22nd approaching, employees who have not been vaccinated may be facing a decision to receive the vaccinations or put their job at risk by not doing so.

On October 28, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the District of Columbia District Court in a case entitled Church v. Biden, 1:21-cv-2815, asked the administration to agree that “active duty military plaintiffs, whose religious exception requests have been denied, will not be disciplined or separated during the pendency of their appeals.”  

In this case, twenty plaintiffs sued President Biden and members of his administration in their official capacity over issues arising from the president’s executive orders mandating vaccines for federal employees.

The lawsuit contends:

If Defendants are not enjoined from enforcing the Vaccine Mandates, hundreds of thousands of federal workers and military personnel will be forcibly removed from our government and Armed Forces, thrusting our nation into a state more vulnerable than the United States has experienced in a quarter of a millennium.

Administration Will Not Halt Action

The Biden administration, which had until noon Friday to respond, did respond but did not agree with the request.

In its response, the administration did not agree to halt the discipline and termination of any employees in the process of seeking a religious exemption to the vaccine pending the court’s ruling on the temporary restraining order (TRO) motion. 

The District Court judge is obviously seeking to move the case along quickly as the Executive Order directive will be implemented soon. In the absence of such an agreement to halt the discipline and termination of employees seeking a religious exemption, the judge in the case wrote the defendants would be required to file an expedited opposition to the request for a temporary restraining order by no later than November 2nd and with a reply due by November 3rd.

Below is a tweet sent out from attorney Jenna Ellis displaying the reaction from the District Court judge in the case and who ordered a response from the government by noon on Friday, October 29th.

Obviously, the issue is far from being settled in this case or others that are pending on the issue of mandatory vaccines filed by other plaintiffs or groups of federal employees. Federal employee unions have largely remained on the sidelines in challenging the mandatory vaccination policy.

As noted in this article, there has been significant opposition from federal employees regarding the mandatory vaccination policy which has led to the filing of legal challenges.

As the issue has become a political one, the positions may be hardening in anticipation of court decisions that will be forthcoming.

With regard to the case of Church v. Biden noted above, the plaintiff’s attorney Michael Yoder in a statement to Fox News: “The Biden administration has shown an unprecedented, cavalier attitude toward the rule of law and an utter ineptitude at basic constitutional contours. This combination is dangerous to American liberty. Thankfully, our Constitution protects and secures the right to remain free from religious persecution and coercion. With this order, we are one step closer to putting the Biden administration back in its place by limiting government to its enumerated powers. It’s time citizens and courts said no to tyranny. The Constitution does not need to be rewritten, it needs to be reread.”

With decisions on new cases that will be emerging and the potential of damage to the careers of federal employees who have not been vaccinated, it does not appear the emotionally charged issue will be resolved amicably or quickly.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47