State Watch

Oregon governor sued by police, firefighters over vaccine mandate

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Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) is being sued by Oregon State Police officers and firefighters over the state’s vaccine mandate.

The lawsuit in a Jefferson County court seeks to block the state from enforcing Brown’s executive order mandating all employees of the executive branch to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

The plaintiffs argue that the order is “unenforceable because it conflicts with Oregon statutes, would result in a common law wrongful discharge of the Plaintiffs, conflicts with the Oregon Constitution’s guarantee of free expression, and conflicts with the United States Constitution guarantee of equal protection, free exercise, and due process.”

The complaint was first reported by KOIN in Oregon. A spokesperson for Brown told the news outlet that the governor is “responding to a public health crisis.”

Vaccine requirements are “critical to protect state workers, workplaces and facilities, as well as members of the public who use state services,” the spokesperson said. 

Brown’s office declined to comment on pending litigation to The Hill. 

The suit was filed by the Oregon Fraternal Order of Police and the Kingsley Firefighters Association. Brown and the state of Oregon are named as defendants.

Brown’s order, signed Aug. 13, required executive branch workers to show that they have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus by Oct. 18.

Exceptions can be granted to people with disabilities, qualifying medical conditions or truly held religious beliefs. Employees who failed to comply with the directive will face “personnel consequences up to and including separation from employment.”

The complaint alleges that state law prohibits employers from requiring workers to be “immunized” as a condition of employment, unless otherwise required by federal or state law.

The lawsuit further alleges that the lawsuit forces put workers in an “untenable situation.”

“Forcing them to decide between their livelihoods and vindicating their statutory and constitutional rights is unconscionable and wrong,” the suit states.

Sixty-four percent of Oregon’s population has received one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with 58.4 percent being fully inoculated.

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