Nearly 100 Washington State Employees Sue Governor Jay Inslee over Vaccine Mandate

On Friday, a lawsuit was filed by over 90 first responders, law enforcement officers, and other public employees who object to the state’s latest vaccine mandate efforts, Fox News reports.

Representing the plaintiffs is Seattle-based attorney Nathan Arnold, who filed the suit in the Walla Walla County Superior Court. In the suit, seven causes of action against Governor Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) are laid out, with a focus on Inslee’s ignoring of the religious exemption provision. Inslee issued an order in August declaring that any public employees who did not get vaccinated by October 18th would be fired.

There are over 90 plaintiffs; over half of them, 53 in total, are with the Washington State Patrol, while others are firefighters, Department of Corrections employees, and ferry operators, among others.

“Some plaintiffs have, as a right by statute and a right secured by the Washington Constitution, sought a religious exemption from the governor’s mandate,” the lawsuit explained. “As a condition of considering the plaintiffs’ religious exemptions, the state or its agencies have required the submission of a ‘religious questionnaire’ which improperly inquired into protected private affairs regarding health care decisions and religious sentiment, belief, and worship.”

Presented as evidence that the Inslee Administration was largely ignoring religious exemptions was a screenshot of an email sent by Inslee’s General Counsel, Kathryn Leathers. Written on August 3rd, Leathers stated that the only exemptions they would allow are “medical for sure, and religious (if we have to; if yes, as narrow as possible).”

Furthermore, the lawsuit alleges that some of the plaintiffs who requested a religious exemption “had their religious sincerity questioned, and have been forced to provide additional information.”

A spokesperson for Inslee responded to the impending lawsuit by defending the governor’s actions, and reaffirming that they believed they had not violated the law with the mandate.

“These requirements are in full compliance with the law,” a spokesman said in a statement to the press. “We look forward to responding in court.”

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