BELLINGHAM, Wash. — The City of Bellingham announced yesterday, Monday, February 13th, that Mayor Seth Fleetwood would be lifting his executive order requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for city employees, volunteers and on-site indoor contractors, effective yesterday at midnight.
The vaccination order, enacted in September 2021, is rescinded effective at 11:59 p.m. Monday, February 13, 2023. It is the last remaining COVID-19 order to be removed and follows Fleetwood’s action last fall to lift his proclamation of local COVID emergency. City of Bellingham (February 13, 2023)
2 city staff, including a 28-year veteran of the police force, who were fired due to the vaccination order filed a civil lawsuit against the City of Bellingham Police Department in December of 2022. According to the complaint filed in Whatcom County Superior Court, the 2 applied for religious exemptions from the vaccination order.
No meetings were held to determine if an accommodation for people of faith who hold sincere religious convictions against ingesting the COVID-19 vaccines were made. These actions show a premeditated determination to deny accommodations and a failure on the part of the City to afford employees of faith an interactive accommodation process.
The complaint goes on to state that the city accepted that the 2 employees “had sincerely held religious beliefs against the COVID-19 vaccination” but denied their requests for reasonable accommodation.
As of February 14th, the City yet to file a response to the complaint.
The lawsuit seeks “lost wages, benefits, and all other lost income” resulting from the plaintiffs’ being fired.