CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – Vaccine requirements for government employees are the focal point of three lawsuits filed against the City of Charleston, Charleston County and St. John Fire Department. Employees say it should be illegal for government agencies to require vaccines for employees.
More than 80 employees from the City of Charleston, Charleston County and the St. John Fire Department are hoping the lawsuits will force municipalities to drop vaccine requirements and let employees make the decision on their own.
First responders and government employees are fighting back suing to drop the requirement they get vaccinated or get fired.
“They believe it’s their personal choice to make health choices for themselves and it’s not the governments choice to do that for them,” says Tom Fernandez, one of the attorneys representing the group of employees.
The group of employees claims the mandate violates the State and Federal Constitution and personal health rights.
“It’s violating their personal freedoms and their personal health choices that they should be able to make themselves,” says Fernandez.
The group of more than 80 employees are taking the fight to the courts saying vaccines should be a personal choice. The suit is similar to one filed against the City of North Charleston, which is now headed to a federal hearing in October.
Labor Attorney Marybeth Mullaney says despite the lawsuits, the mandates will likely be upheld.
“I think that the mandates are constitutional and I think that they will be upheld as long as the mandates are narrowly tailored which these mandates are,” says Mullaney.
Charleston County officials says the county can’t comment on pending litigation. City of Charleston Spokesman Jack O’Toole released a statement in response to the lawsuit saying; “The safety of our employees and the citizens we serve is always our first priority. For that reason, it is our hope that the judicial system will address these issues quickly so we can move forward with the measures needed to protect our workforce and our community.”
The group has also filed an injunction to put the vaccine requirements on hold, in the meantime they’re hopeful for a resolution with the city, county and fire department.
“Hopefully the county and city decide to speak with us and come up with some type of negotiation,” says Fernandez.
Governor Henry McMaster’s office says there is no law in place keeping government entities from requiring employees to be vaccinated. The three lawsuits are expected to go before a judge in the coming weeks.