Healthcare workers challenge Rhode Island’s COVID vaccine mandate
Several people employed in Rhode Island’s healthcare industry have filed a federal challenge to the state’s coronavirus vaccine mandate for healthcare workers, alleging it is unconstitutional because it does not allow religious exemptions.
Employees of state-approved health facilities must be vaccinated before October 1, otherwise they risk losing their jobs. The state has extended the deadline by one month in some cases where firing unvaccinated workers would compromise patient safety.
Most other states allow religious exemptions, according to the lawsuit.
“Rhode Island is not an island in itself,” according to the complaint filed Thursday by lawyer Joseph Larisa Jr. “If across America religious exemptions can be accepted in accordance with patient safety, then in law and in logic, the same applies here. “
The four plaintiffs are identified in the lawsuit by only one initial. They are described as a doctor; a nurse; a hospital clerk attending medical school; and a health unit coordinator in a hospital.
A complainant was fired after requesting and being denied a religious exemption. The others may end when the mandate takes effect.
The plaintiffs “wish to keep their identity anonymous to avoid harassment in the current environment”, indicates the lawsuit.
The lawsuit seeks a temporary injunction and a preliminary injunction against the vaccine’s mandate on the grounds that it will lead to religious discrimination.
Spokesmen for Governor Daniel McKee and the state Department of Health said they could not comment on the pending litigation.