27 Seattle firefighters suing city over termination after COVID-19 vaccine mandate

Sep 27, 2022, 12:31 PM | Updated: 3:27 pm
Seattle Fire Station 2 on 4th Avenue in Belltown (Seattle Department of Transporation)...
Seattle Fire Station 2 on 4th Avenue in Belltown (Seattle Department of Transporation)
(Seattle Department of Transporation)

In two separate lawsuits, 27 Seattle firefighters are suing Seattle Fire Department Chief Harold Scoggins and the city of Seattle over their imminent terminations or past terminations due to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

In the first complaint, 24 former Seattle firefighters say they submitted requests for a religious exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine, claiming the exemption requests were based on sincerely held beliefs.

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They also acknowledged that each of them had a legitimate conflict with the vaccine, and the city did not offer any accommodations to address their issues.

The firefighters said they believe the city had already determined it would not accommodate any religious exemptions and that based on testimony from Deputy Chief Thomas Walsh, the entire religious exemption assessment process was a sham.

According to the lawsuit, during the assessment process, Assistant Chief Bryan Hastings told one witness, “I just wish the 18th would get her so we could fire everybody and move on.”

The lawsuit claims the city prioritized medical exemptions over religious exemptions, quoting an email from Deputy Mayor Tiffany Washington: “The department has to prioritize those with medical exemptions. Once you address accommodations for this group you can move to those with religious exemptions.”

The firefighters are asking for their lost wages and benefits, including pension rights, since October 18, 2021, attorney fees and damages.

In a separate lawsuit, three additional Seattle firefighters claim they are facing termination, due to the city not providing accommodations for their religious exemptions from the COVID-19 vaccination.

They are asking for a court to prevent their termination, along with attorney fees and damages.

When reached for a comment, a representative with the City Attorney’s Office said, “We have reviewed the litigation and are preparing a response to the lawsuit on behalf of the City and Chief Scoggins. We would be happy to share a copy of our response once we file it.”

Follow this link to read additional stories from KIRO

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27 Seattle firefighters suing city over termination after COVID-19 vaccine mandate