More than 130 city employees — mostly from Chicago Fire Department — file suit against city, state over vaccine mandates

Chicago News

CHICAGO — More than 130 city workers, mostly from the Chicago Fire Department, filed a lawsuit Thursday asking a judge to find that the state’s and city’s COVID-19 vaccination mandates for public employees are unconstitutional.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday morning in federal court in Chicago on behalf of employees of the CFD, as well as the city’s Water and Transportation departments.

The lawsuit alleges that the Sept. 3 executive order signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker — which requires that healthcare workers, state employees and contractors to be fully vaccinated — “exceeds the authority granted to the governor and to governmental units granted by statute, and is therefore null and void as to the vaccine mandates complained of here.”

The suit also targets the mandate set forth by Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, which required that all city employees disclose their vaccination status by Oct. 15. If a city employee said they are not fully vaccinated, then they must submit to twice-weekly COVID-19 tests on their own time and at their own expense until Dec. 31.

The city employees are also asking a judge to find that “the City of Chicago Order, and therefore the mandate, exceeds the authority granted to the Mayor of Chicago, and is therefore null and void.”

It’s unclear what the consequences will be once that deadline passes, and earlier this week the city disclosed that about 72% of CFD employees submitted their vaccination status. While most city departments saw at least 90% compliance in vaccine status reporting, the CFD and CPD — at about 67% — lagged behind.

Earlier this week, 21 CPD officers were placed on no-pay status over their refusal to comply with the order. A representative for the fire department did not respond to questions about potential disciplinary measures against CFD employees who did not disclose their vaccination status.

A representative for Pritzker didn’t respond to a request for comment, while a representative for the city’s Law Department declined to comment, citing the ongoing nature of the litigation.

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