Rantz: Pro-choice AG Ferguson fired veteran and mom for making choice he doesn’t like
Pro-choice Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson fired a mother and veteran for choosing not to get the COVID vaccine. She was informed of her inevitable termination while out on maternity leave, and when she tried to explain what happened to co-workers via email, she said Ferguson’s office deleted it from staff inboxes.
Haylie Bergstrom worked as a legal assistant in Ferguson’s office for nearly two years, a job she took after serving in the US Air Force. She was finishing school in hopes of being promoted to a paralegal.
But her dreams were dashed when she says she was told that she would be without a job after her maternity leave if she didn’t get the COVID vaccine and booster.
Making work demands while on maternity leave
Initially, Bergstrom was allowed to work from home with a religious exemption. Then she gave birth and started maternity leave in February. She says no one from HR contacted her about her telework approval until May.
“They called me out of the blue and said I had to get the vaccine, and be fully vaccinated,” Bergstrom exclusively tells the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “So, the vaccine plus all the boosters that are recommended by the CDC or I was fired the day that I come back to work. I had less than two months before I was supposed to be back in the office. And they basically said my exemption was approved, but they won’t accommodate me.”
The AG’s office could, of course, accommodate Bergstrom. They did so during the pandemic. But instead, they chose to deny an accommodation, a move most state agencies made to staff members citing religious convictions.
“I had kind of argued with them a little back and forth. And I was like, you know, ‘I’m still on maternity leave. This shouldn’t be something that’s addressed until I come back to work. Maternity leave is protected time.’ And then they wanted me to go get my medical treatments done during my protected time. So there was no budging. I even applied for an appeal. And that also got denied. So it was super frustrating,” she explained.
Bergstrom says she was officially terminated on July 18. She knew it was coming.
Ferguson’s office deletes email criticism?
On July 14, Bergstrom wrote a mass email to colleagues to explain what was happening. She thanked “everybody who has personally helped me in some way during my time here at the Attorney General’s Office.”
But then she criticized the vaccine policy.
“[W]hat has happened to me and other employees this year is beyond absurd,” she wrote. “I spent four and a half years in the United States Air Force, including deployments to Kuwait and Afghanistan. I was hired at the AGO in October 2020, less than two months after returning from Kandahar, Afghanistan, along with half of our equipment.”
“I was forced to choose between getting medical treatments while still on maternity leave or lose my livelihood, including my medical insurance. They approved an exemption but refused to accommodate me. What is the price of freedom to you? I know what it is for me. I fought for Americans’ freedoms while simultaneously giving up mine. I sacrificed precious time with my one-and-a-half-year-old daughter while being deployed to the Middle East for over seven months. Where were you? You were not fighting for freedom; rather, you were fighting to take it away. Take it away from me, your friends, your colleagues, your family, my family, and people you do not even know. I lost valuable time with my family and I put my life at risk, but I am forever proud of my service to my people and country,” she wrote.
Bergstrom says roughly 30 minutes, the email mysteriously disappeared from the inboxes of her colleagues. She believed the AG’s office IT department deleted the email so her coworkers wouldn’t see it. This would not be the first time the AG’s office deleted an unauthorized email criticizing the policy.
A spokesperson for the AG’s office denies the allegations, saying that the email “was not deleted from any inboxes.”
The irony of Ferguson’s policy is not lost on Bergstrom.
The AG proudly proclaims he is pro-choice. But that’s only the case when it comes to aborting an unborn life. When it comes to private medical decisions around COVID, it’s no longer a decision that should be made between this woman and her doctor.
“I know that there’s a lot of politics that are involved with the Roe v Wade overturned, and people are complaining that they don’t have access to health care opportunities, or they’re not able to decide what is done with their body. But I’m like, ‘What’s the difference with me?’ Because I don’t get to pick and choose what’s best for my body, or what’s best for my family, they just hold my job over my head. And it’s just not right,” she said.
The AG’s office defended the vaccine mandate in an email to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH, citing CDC guidance that says, “Staying up to date with COVID-19 vaccination also means you are less likely to spread the disease to others.”
“It is based on CDC and DOH recommendations, and was drafted in collaboration with our labor partners, who represent 85 percent of our employees,” the spokesperson told me. “This is what our employees wanted to feel safe and reduce risks while working from the office, and it’s what management wanted as well to reduce risks to our employees. The majority of our employees support this policy – and we trust you will mention that important fact if you decide to comment on our policy.”
The guidance does not match up with the data.
Dr. Anthony Fauci recently admitted that “Omicron, with its extraordinary, unprecedented degree of efficiency of transmissibility, will ultimately find just about everybody.” US Food and Drug Administration acting commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock concurs.
“I think it’s hard to process what’s actually happening right now, which is: Most people are going to get COVID,” Woodcock said.
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