Judge Denies Washington Fish and Wildlife Employees’ Request for Temporary Injunction Against Vaccine Mandate

Photo by Hillebrand Steve, USFWS on Pixnio

Last month, employees of Washington State’s Department of Fish and Wildlife received letters that their vaccine requirement exemptions had been rescinded right before the deadline to receive their first shot.

Their union sued as a result — but a judge has struck their request for a temporary injunction has been denied.

“Those notices threatened to terminate the employees by means of a ‘nondisciplinary discharge’ on Oct. 18,” a lawsuit filed by the Fish and Wildlife Officers Guild stated. “The Guild now seeks a restraining Order to prevent these discharges until the collective bargaining process can be properly completed.”

The motion, however, was denied by Superior Court Judge Philip Sorensen earlier this week.

“In my judgment, the emergency outweighs the rights of whatever agents we might be talking about here that have not received the vaccination,” Sorensen said at the hearing, as reported by The News Tribune.

He characterized the suit as “20 people are asking me to look out for their well-being and ignore the well-being of the rest of the state, and I am frankly unwilling to do that.”

Late last month, employees who had previously been granted religious exemptions to Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s vaccine requirement for state workers had been rescinded just days before they would have had to get the shot, as Fox 13 reported.

“This is a hard decision, and we recognize that this may be late in coming to you,” DFW Deputy Director Amy Windrope wrote in an email to staffers.

“We have received additional guidance that has altered how we are evaluating these reasonable accommodation requests. Based on the new guidance and a review of our business needs, and your work environment, your previously granted reasonable accommodation has been rescinded,” the employees were informed.

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