Gainesville City Employees Granted Temporary Injunction Against Vaccine Mandates
A lawsuit was filed on behalf of about 200 employees after city officials required them to get the shot or risk termination. Alachua Civil Circuit Judge Monica Brasington granted the injunction,
Gainesville city employees won a court battle Wednesday when they were granted a temporary injunction, or a request to refrain from taking a certain action, against an imposed vaccine mandate.
A lawsuit was filed against the city on Aug. 26 after city officials imposed a vaccine mandate or risk termination for all city employees. 200 plus employees were against the mandate.
Alachua County Civil Circuit Judge Monica Brasington granted the temporary injunction against the vaccine mandate two days after Monday’s hearing for the lawsuit.
Gov. Ron DeSantis said Sept. 13 that any city or county that requires employees to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination would face a $5,000 fine per infraction.
“We are here today to make it clear that we are going to stand for the men and women who are serving,” DeSantis said. “We are not going to let people be fired because of a vaccine mandate.”
Attorney General Ashley Moody filed an amicus brief on Sept. 13 with the court in support of the plaintiffs’ lawsuit.
Gainesville city employees’ lead attorney, Jeff Childers, said he felt confident about the trial and his argument in favor of an injunction.
“The strongest argument we have is the Florida constitution’s strong right to privacy, which includes a right to complete bodily autonomy and a right to refuse unwanted medical procedures, so that the city of Gainesville cannot treat its employees’ bodies like property,” Childers said.
Brasington’s ruling cited the privacy rights afforded to Florida residents by the state’s constitution.
She said the city of Gainesville did not present evidence to justify the vaccine mandate and infringing on the plaintiffs’ right to privacy.
The temporary injunction states that the city shall not enforce the vaccine mandate policy or terminate or discipline any employees for failure to comply with the vaccine mandate.
The injunction will continue to be in place until further order by the court.
Sgt. Tristan Grunder, Gainesville Fraternal Order of Police president, was relieved at the news of the injunction.
“We are happy that this has been put on pause for the future and allows us to have more time, because I think one of the big issues that we’ve had all along is that this felt very rushed,” Grunder said. “It felt like the decision was very emotional and maybe not super thought out by the commissioners.”
Austin Bush, a firefighter/EMT at Gainesville Fire Rescue and one of the plaintiffs to the lawsuit, said he and some of his fellow firefighters could not be happier about the injunction being granted. He was against the mandate because he wanted more time to consider his options with his family, he said.
“There is still work to be done, but we are taking the victory today and going to continue with our efforts against the mandate,” Bush said.
City spokesperson Rossana Passaniti said the city will continue its efforts to improve vaccination rates among its workforce through education and incentives.
“We recognize the reality of vaccine hesitancy and vaccine disinformation but agree with public health experts that vaccination is key in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” Passaniti said.
The city’s attorneys have not said if they plan on appealing the court’s ruling.
Copyright 2021 Health News Florida