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State employees including first responders sue state over vaccine mandate

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Over 90 different people including state troopers, Dept. of Corrections workers, firefighters and healthcare workers are suing the state over Governor Jay Inslee’s mandate that state employees must be vaccinated before Oct. 18 or could lose their jobs.

The lawsuit filed on Sept. 10 in Walla Walla County Superior Court, alleges that Inslee’s vaccination mandate overreaches his authority and violates the rights afforded to workers by the state’s constitution.

The complaint argues that Inslee’s order singles out employees of protected “political” and “religious” classes of employees that would be “purged” by the mandate, violating their right to free speech and expression.

The document cites WA Const. Art. I, Sec. 11 which guarantees: “Absolute freedom of conscience in all matters of religious sentiment, belief and worship, shall be guaranteed to every individual, and no one shall be molested or disturbed in person or property on account of religion…. No religious qualification shall be required for any public office or employment.”

It also finds issue with the “religious exemption” process and the “religious questionnaire” which the complaint claims “improperly inquired into protected private affairs regarding health care decisions and religious sentiment, belief, and worship.”

Additionally it argues that the governor can “prohibit” certain behaviors, but cannot compel citizens to commit certain actions like getting vaccinated.

The document also states intent to amend the complaint to “add thirty to fifty-thousand additional similarly situated Plaintiffs.”

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Cameron Sheppard

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Cameron Sheppard