Los Angeles County revealed Nov. 12 they have started issuing non-compliance notices to employees who have not registered their COVID-19 vaccination status with the county.
Employees must register their vaccine status with the county and begin COVID-19 testing within five days of receiving the notice or face discipline, according to the county.
“The vaccination policy is intended to save lives, not to punish employees based on their vaccination status,” LA County Spokesman Michael Wilson told The Epoch Times.
Employees can apply for a medical or religious exemption, “and the policy provides ample time for this process.”
Employees who have not complied with the vaccine policy within 45 days of receiving the notice will get a five-day suspension. They will have 30 days after they return from the suspension to come into compliance.
The county declined to say, however, whether unvaccinated sheriff’s department employees were among those who have received notices.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, an outspoken critic of the county’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate that went into effect Oct. 1, said last week he could lose up to one-third of his sworn staff to the mandate.
However, last week, he said the county lacked the authority to terminate his employees.
On Nov. 2, the sheriff’s department reported 52 percent of its staff was fully vaccinated. At that time, Villanueva said 4,185 sworn and professional employees could be terminated because of the vaccine mandate.
The next day on Facebook Live, a viewer asked Villanueva whether the Board of Supervisors had the authority to fire his deputies over the vaccine mandate.
“No, they cannot. They cannot legally do that,” Villanueva told the viewer. “That’s my responsibility. I mean, they’re going to try to do some cute stuff, trust me. However, the point is, this is all political posturing and it’s not based on anything that is going to benefit the public.”
Calls and emails to the county’s Board of Supervisors, sheriff’s department, County Counsel, and the District of Attorney’s Office went unanswered or did not address the question of whether the county could fire sheriff’s department employees.
Villanueva, who oversees the largest sheriff’s department in the country, with about 18,000 employees, announced in early October that he wouldn’t enforce the county’s vaccine mandate in his agency.
Sheriff’s departments are given authority from the state and the California Legislature failed to pass a state vaccine mandate this year.
Monterey County, in northern California, decided a similar issue Nov. 2, when 49 of its sheriff’s office employees were reportedly non-compliant with the county’s vaccine mandate.
That county’s legal counsel determined the Board of Supervisors could not terminate sheriff’s office employees. The only person with that authority was the elected sheriff, the Monterey County Weekly reported.
An email to Los Angeles County’s counsel was not returned by press time.
More than 80 percent of employees had provided proof of full or partial vaccinations by Friday, LA County reported.
The county hopes that 100 percent of its workforce will comply with the policy and register in the system, Wilson said.
Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Chief Michel Moore has cooperated with the vaccine mandate rollout and has required his department to be fully vaccinated.
The Los Angeles Times reported that more than 2,600 LAPD officers so far have claimed to be exempt for medical or religious reasons. Some officers have filed lawsuits challenging the mandate.
A state Superior Court judge denied a request for a temporary restraining order Nov. 10 filed by the Los Angeles police union to block the city’s vaccine mandate.
Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff must still rule on a related request for a preliminary injunction to halt the mandate for officers while a lawsuit filed by the union against the city goes forward. That hearing is scheduled for next month, KTLA reported.
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