CHICAGO - A federal judge on Friday denied a motion by 130 Chicago firefighters and other city employees to temporarily halt enforcement of the city’s requirement that all its workers report whether they’ve received the COVID-19 vaccination or risk being put on no-pay status.
During an hourlong hearing, U.S. District Judge John Lee methodically dismantled arguments made in the lawsuit. He said, for example, that he saw no evidence that either Mayor Lori Lightfoot or Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker exceeded their authority by imposing mandates earlier this year to slow the spread of the deadly virus.
The judge also pointed to a host of problems and shortcomings in the lawsuit, including what he said was a lack of scientific evidence to support the contention that the natural immunity for people who have had the virus is superior to the protection from the vaccine.
Lee said employees were making the same arguments that the Chicago-based 7th Circuit Court of appeals rejected just this summer when it ruled that Indiana University could proceed with its plan to require students and employees to get vaccinated for the virus. And he said the court had rejected he argument made by the students and the city employees that forcing them to receive an unwanted medical treatment was a violation of their constitutional rights.
While the judge said attorneys for the city employees had shown a likelihood that they would ultimately be successful in any of their claims, he did not dismiss the lawsuit and told the attorneys to return by the end of next week to provide more information.
Lee’s ruling comes amid a heated battle over the vaccine mandate ordered by Lightfoot, with the police officers’ union arguing she has no right to penalize officers who defy it.