(The Center Square) – Oregon Gov. Kate Brown is facing a federal lawsuit from public employees challenging the state’s COVID-19 vaccination requirement as a condition of employment.
In the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court's Eugene Division, six public workers from state and local public organizations said they already have been infected with COVID-19 and have natural immunity. This, plaintiffs said, is why they should be exempted from Brown’s orders, which said everyone working in a school, health care or state-agency setting must prove they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 18.
Public and private employers face a fine of $500 per day until the employee is terminated or vaccinated.
If they are not exempt, the plaintiffs believe their Fourteenth Amendment right to due process would be violated, hence the impetus for a federal lawsuit.
The nonprofit Freedom Foundation represents the six plaintiffs, who filed the lawsuit Thursday.
“The Governor’s orders fail to take into account natural immunity which current studies show to be just as – if not more – effective than any vaccine,” Freedom Foundation Oregon Director Jason Dudash said. “These mandates are about control and not based in any science, which is consistent with what we’ve seen come out of the Governor’s mansion this past year, as well as the White House.”
The lawsuits plaintiffs include:
• Joshua Williams, chief of Aurora Fire and Rescue, who came down with COVID-19 in January;
• Jennifer Lewis, office manager and treatment coordinator for Klamath Falls Orthodontics, who contracted the virus in December;
• Beaverton school bus driver David Klaus, who was tested for COVID-19 in January;
• Phillip Kearney, who works for the Oregon Department of Justice and tested positive for COVID-19 last spring;
• Malheur County resident Jay Hicks, who works for the Oregon Department of Corrections and whose doctor suggested he not get the vaccine after having recently tested positive for antibodies; and
• Michael Miller, who also works for the Oregon Department of Corrections, had COVID-19 in November and tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies on Sept. 1.
The plaintiffs are seeking an exemption from the mandate for themselves but and anyone else who had been infected by COVID-19 and can prove natural immunity via an antibody test.
“The state compelling private individuals to submit to any medical procedure against their will is outrageous enough,” said Rebekah Millard, litigation counsel for the Freedom Foundation. “Imposing a one-size-fits-all mandate on people who not only don’t need the vaccine but would have an elevated chance of experiencing serious side effects if they take it shows conclusively the state’s actions are steeped in partisan politics rather than hard science.”
Brown’s office said Friday that it does not comment on pending litigation.