NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – A lawsuit filed Monday on behalf of 14 former City of North Charleston employees alleges that the city’s recently imposed COVID-19 vaccine mandate is unconstitutional.

The case was brought by a group of first responders, including longtime members of the North Charleston Police and Fire Departments, after Mayor Keith Summey issued a requirement that all city employees get the COVID-19 vaccine by November 5.

According to the complaint, the plaintiffs believe that the mandate “violates the South Carolina Constitution, South Carolina common law, and the United States Constitution.” They claim that “Mayor Summey has placed Plaintiffs and all City employees in an untenable situation; forcing them to decide between their livelihoods and vindicating their statutory and constitutional rights is unconscionable and wrong.”

Likewise, the plaintiffs allege that the mandate violates their right to free speech, claiming that their “right to control their own medical destinies is both expressive speech in the form of opposition to the COVID-19 vaccine, and expressive conduct in opposition to the vaccine mandate.”

The group is “seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to enjoin enforcement of the Mayor’s order.”

Editor’s note: This article has been corrected to reflect that the plaintiffs are current employees of the City of North Charleston.