Judge Denies LAPD Officers' Suit to Block Employee Vaccine Mandate

Thirteen officers asked a federal court to stop the city of Los Angeles from forcing employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of employment.

A federal judge in Orange County has denied a request from a group of LAPD officers to block the city of Los Angeles from imposing certain elements of its COVID-19 vaccination mandate for city employees.

In a six-page decision U.S. District Court Judge R. Gary Klausner said the police employees had failed to show the city's requirements for exemption requests had caused any actual harm to the workers, though an attorney for the officers said that was because the city agreed in court filings to change some of its rules.

"We're pleased that the city has now agreed to do what we were asking the court to order them to do," attorney Dan Watkins said late Thursday.

The officers said in an application for a temporary restraining order that they objected to the city's plan to only use an online form to collect employee requests for medical and religious exemptions, argued the city was asking for too much information from employees seeking religious exemptions, and asked the court to stop the city from limiting which medical exemptions would be allowed.

Judge Klausner said in the decision the law places the burden of persuasion on the plaintiffs, in this case the officers, to show that absent intervention there would be imminent, irreparable harm.

"A showing of a 'mere possibility' of harm is insufficient to justify the 'extraordinary remedy' of a TRO," the decision said in response to one of the officers' allegations.

LA City Attorney Mike Feuer said in response to the ruling that he's confident the city will prevail in legal challenges to the employee vaccination mandate.

"The U.S. Supreme Court and courts across the country have upheld vaccination mandates by the government and they've done so because the greater good compels it. And the greater good compels it now," Feuer said.

The group of 13 police employees filed the case September 11 after the City of Los Angeles began to finalize plans for the citywide employee vaccine mandate, and when the City gave preliminary instructions to workers about how to register their intentions to refuse the vaccination.

"This is just part of what we're doing," Watkins said of the TRO request.

He said the same group of plaintiffs planned to seek a court order next week to stop the entire vaccine mandate from taking effect.

"Definitely the challenge to the mandate is coming."

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