Judge does not give a ruling on the COVID-19 vaccine mandate lawsuit against the City of Gainesville

Published: Sep. 20, 2021 at 6:36 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Today was the first emergency injunction hearing in the lawsuit against the City of Gainesville, for mandating the COVID-19 vaccine for employees.

After several hours of testimony and questioning, the judge did not give a ruling.

“It is a case of first impression. To my understanding, this is the first one that will be ruled on in the State of Florida. I want, for all of your sake, for me to get it right, so I’m going to take the time to do that. However, I am going to do it quickly for the benefit of everyone,” said Judge Monica Brasington.

Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe said the city’s vaccine mandate has nothing to do with violating anybody’s rights, and everything to do with public safety.

“We believe that we have the right and responsibility to determine how to best keep our workforce and our employees healthy,” said Poe.

This hearing comes one week after Governor Ron DeSantis visited Alachua County, where he announced the state will issue a $5,000 fine for each time an entity requires proof of vaccination.

RELATED STORY: Governor DeSantis implements $5,000 fine each time a government agency enforces vaccination

“We do not at this time think that the governor’s order is enforceable because it is ultimately our own responsibility for our own employees,” said Poe.

Attorney Jeff Childers is representing 200 city employees who are in opposition to the mandate.

He said forcing the vaccine as a condition of employment is a violation of their right to privacy.

“The right of privacy is a fundamental one, expressly protected by the Florida Constitution, and any law that implicates it is presumptively unconstitutional,” said Childers.

Gainesville City Attorney Daniel Nee made the argument that employees have been subjected to random drug tests and background checks in the past.

He said the level of privacy invasion is no different.

Judge Monica Brasington asked both sides to submit competing proposed orders by 12 pm tomorrow.

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