Washington State faces spate of lawsuits from workers fired for refusing COVID vaccines

Gov. Jay Inslee recently ended the COVID-19 vaccination mandate, but for some of the public workers fired for refusing to comply, the legal battle goes on.

The state is facing more than a dozen lawsuits involving at least 180 ex-employees who allege they were unjustly forced from their jobs after asserting religious or other objections to receiving the vaccines.

The plaintiffs include state troopers, nurses, psychiatrists, mental health counselors, fish biologists and bank regulators, among others. Some had decades of state service. But their careers were cut short after they declined to meet Inslee’s October 2021 deadline to get vaccinated.

In the highest-profile case, former Washington State football coach Nick Rolovich has sued the state and WSU, seeking $25 million in compensation after being fired for refusing to get a COVID vaccine. A federal judge this week dismissed Inslee and WSU athletic director Patrick Chun as defendants in the lawsuit, but left open three claims against WSU.

In one of the latest cases, 60 former employees of the Washington State Department of Transportation, including ferry workers, engineers and snowplow drivers, sued the state on May 9 in federal court, contending they’d been illegally terminated even though they could have continued their work safely.

Judges have repeatedly upheld Inslee’s authority to enforce the vaccine mandate, swatting down lawsuits, including some filed on behalf of workers now contesting their dismissals.

Read more https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/wa-faces-spate-of-lawsuits-from-workers-fired-for-refusing-covid-vaccines/