CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A group of North Charleston employees that includes several veteran first responders is suing the city over its COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
The lawsuit alleges that “the mayor’s COVID vaccine mandate violates the South Carolina constitution, South Carolina Common Law and The United States Constitution.”
The mandate in question was the executive order North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey issued Sept. 1. The suit says the order tried to impose a mandatory vaccine requirement on all city employees, volunteers, and interns, whether working on a full or part-time schedule. They allege all employees are required to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 5.
The employees filing the lawsuit say they want a judge to prevent the enforcement of the Summey order. The suit alleges the mandate violates the employees’ rights and responsibilities to make medical decisions for themselves under the Constitution of the State of South Carolina, South Carolina common law, and the Constitution of the United States.
Specifically the lawsuit says the mandate conflicts with the South Carolina Constitution’s guarantee of free expression and violates the South Carolina’s Home Rule Act.
The suit also alleges the mandate violates DHEC’s General Supervision of Vaccination, Screening, and Immunization, and conflicts with the United States Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection.
In the suit, the city employees say they want to exercise control over their own medical treatment and are being forced to choose between their rights, privileges, and liberties as citizens on the one hand and their employment, careers, and financial futures on the other.
Of the 14 employees suing the city, some include a 15-year veteran master patrol officer, a 21-year veteran undercover officer and an active shooter specialist with 13 years experience with the NCPD and four years experience with the fire department.
On Monday afternoon the city of North Charleston released the following statement in response to the lawsuit:
“Public safety and health are highest level concerns for the City just as they should be for us all. We appreciate how many of our citizens, employees, and sister governments are putting the well-being of the community first via vaccination. Because we realize that this view may not be universally held, we look forward to using this opportunity to resolve the debate quickly and with finality so that we may all benefit from getting the pandemic behind us sooner.”
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