Washington state employees previously granted religious exemptions from a statewide COVID-19 vaccination mandate found out this week those exceptions have been revoked, giving them just days to choose between taking the shot or losing their jobs.
Nearly a dozen employees with the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife received letters this week telling them their reasonable accommodations permissions had been rescinded.
One of those workers, 20-year agency veteran Brad Otto, was granted an exemption Sept. 20 and, just nine days later, the state agency pulled back the accommodation because their changed its policy in the 11th hour, according to KCPQ-TV.
The about face left Otto feeling “betrayed.”
“I don’t believe that it’s personal, but you never know,” he said. “These are weird times, having to either comply or leave a job you love.”
Otto said he received a letter from his employer this week stating, “We have received additional guidance that has altered how we are evaluating these reasonable accommodation requests. Based on the new guidance and a review of our business needs, and your work environment, your previously granted reasonable accommodation has been rescinded.”
Because of the very short notice given to the previously exempted employees, they will have to take the single-dose Johnson & Johnson inoculation, if they so choose.
LISTEN TO TODAY’S PODCAST AND SUBSCRIBE:
To comply with Gov. Jay Inslee’s (D) order, state agency employees will have to receive the shot by Tuesday, Oct. 4, so they’re considered fully vaccinated by Oct. 18.
Carrie McCausland, the director of public affairs for the Department of Fish and Wildlife, said in a statement that the “safest workplace is one with fully vaccinated staff with as few exceptions as possible.”
“This said,” she continued, “a decision was made to no longer accept the inherent risk of a workplace where both staff who are vaccinated and staff who [do] not need to navigate around each in other in communal areas, hallways, printer/copiers areas, restrooms, etc. for the sake of each other’s safety. This is not staff’s burden to share; it is the employer’s responsibility not to have staff in a situation where they have to decide if it is safe to go to work.”
As KING-TV noted, it’s not yet clear whether the change will impact other state agencies. If so, upward of 1,700 staffers could lose their previously granted exemptions.
***As the number of voices facing big-tech censorship continues to grow, please sign up for Faithwire’s daily newsletter and download the CBN News app, developed by our parent company, to stay up-to-date with the latest news from a distinctly Christian perspective.***