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Judge dismisses LA officers’ challenge to vaccine mandate

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A federal judge on Monday dismissed a lawsuit by 13 Los Angeles police officers challenging the city’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The officers argued the mandate violated their constitutional rights to privacy and due process and protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner rejected the claims but said that the officers could reassert claims of religious discrimination if they had supporting evidence, adding such complaints would “not necessarily be futile.”

Klausner noted that the officers had not yet offered evidence of religious discrimination.

The officers claimed that the mandate infringed on the right to privacy in California because “it forces the Plaintiffs to disclose their private medical information” and “forces them to receive unwanted medical treatment,” according to the complaint.

“Considering Plaintiffs are entrusted with public safety and have contractually consented to searches that are more invasive than those required by COVID tests, Plaintiffs undoubtedly have a reduced privacy interest here,” wrote Klausner in response to their argument.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) and the Los Angeles City Council approved an ordinance in August that required city employees to be vaccinated by October. The ordinance opened the door for medical and religious exemptions but required those with exemptions to submit to weekly COVID-19 tests.

The police officers’ lawsuit was filed in September against the city of Los Angeles, Garcetti, Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Chief Michael Moore and city administrative officer Matthew Szabo.

Attorney Daniel Watkins, who represents the officers, said that he and his team were “reviewing the court’s ruling and determining next steps.” The officers were given until Friday to make amendments to the existing case.

More than 80 percent of LAPD and Los Angeles Fire Department employees have been vaccinated, according to the city. 

Los Angeles County is currently reporting a seven-day average of more than 35,000 COVID-19 cases a day, up from around 1,000 in early December, before the omicron variant began its rapid spread across the country. 

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