Naperville firefighters sue Gov. Pritzker, city over vaccine and testing mandate

Coronavirus

NAPERVILLE, Ill. — Six firefighters in Naperville are suing the city, Governor Pritzker and Edward-Elmhurst Healthcare over COVID-19 vaccination and testing mandates.

The lawsuit is asking a federal judge to decide if the government can force a public employee to take a vaccine. Firefighters in Naperville said the mandate is a violation of their constitutional rights.

On Sept. 3, Gov. JB Pritzker issued an executive order mandating that healthcare workers, including firefighters and EMTs, must be fully vaccinated. They were ordered to have their first shots by Sept. 19 and a second one, if needed, within one month.

Those who decide not to get vaccinated must be tested for COVID-19 on a weekly basis, according to the order.

The firefighters allege the order violates first responders’ “fundamental right to their bodily autonomy, and to make health decisions in accordance with their beliefs and conscience.”

“Plaintiffs are a group of heroes who have risked their lives time and time again from the beginning of the pandemic through today,” an attorney for the firefighters said. “Now, the governor is trying to scapegoat these heroes, despite the consensus of the scientific community, and in violation of the law.”

A number of legal experts and precedents say the governor is well within his authority to set workplace standards for public employees.

“The City of Naperville is complying with Governor Pritzker’s Executive Orders. We are aware of the lawsuit and we do not discuss pending litigation,” Naperville’s director of communications said.

A phone hearing on the lawsuit is set for Thursday morning.

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