Connecticut school’s unvaccinated employees sue Lamont over ‘heavyweight’ weekly COVID tests

According to the lawsuit, nine unvaccinated Connecticut educators and school employees filed a lawsuit against Governor Ned Lamont and Public Health Department Commissioner Dr. Manisha Juthani over “heavy” travel and expenses caused by weekly COVID-19 tests.

Lamont issued an executive order in September requiring state employees, school staff and child care workers to get a COVID-19 vaccine or undergo ongoing testing to remain employed.

The nine teachers and school staff who filed the complaint opted out of getting vaccinated, and most of them opted for the weekly test. The lawsuit alleges that the nasal swabs used for the tests were “highly invasive”. And if educators didn’t want to get tested by nasal swab, the lawsuit said saliva testing meant long trips to their personal time, expense, and “heavy and oppressive” testing schedules.

The lawsuit comes as Lamont’s executive orders are set to expire Feb. 15. The governor is asking the legislature to uphold 11 of his executive orders, but the provision requiring state employees and educators to be vaccinated or tested regularly is not one of them. The governor is asking the legislature to preserve its orders requiring employees of public hospitals, workers in long-term care facilities and visitors to nursing homes to be vaccinated.

However, plaintiffs seek permanent relief that would compel Lamont and Juthani to “cease the unlawful enforcement” of the executive order, a “declaratory judgment” that the executive order is “invalid”, a temporary order of mandamus, a preliminary injunction and restitution, including legal costs and fees.

A spokesperson for Lamont declined to comment on the lawsuit. The governor and Juthani also did not respond in court, according to the online filing.

The lawsuit says the plaintiffs continue to “suffer from emotional distress due to the stigma associated with their respective objections to being vaccinated and/or being coerced into undergoing the highly invasive nasal swab test.”

The lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday by Westport attorney John Bolton, alleges the executive order was “hastily issued in direct violation of the vaccination protocol established by the state legislature in July 2003,” according to a press release from Bolton and Stamford lawyer Lindy. Urso.

Urso has previously filed its own lawsuit against Lamont in federal court in the spring of 2020 over the governor’s executive order requiring masks at the start of the pandemic. A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit in favor of Lamont in December 2021.

“The shortcoming in Plaintiff’s case is that he is challenging a retainer that has no express provision for enforcement…or, alternatively, has sued the wrong person with respect to retainers for which enforcement is expressly considered,” U.S. District Judge Kari A Dooley wrote in a memo explaining her decision.

Bolton and Urso said the nine plaintiffs “want to send a strong message to the Governor and both houses of the CT Legislature that failure to follow established public health emergency laws will no longer be tolerated.”

The plaintiffs included Colleen Alfano, guidance counselor at Greenwich Public Schools; William Michael, teacher in Area 14 School District; Kara Giacobbe, teacher at Fairfield Public Schools; Peter Gersz, Clinton Public Schools teacher; Melissa Cassidy, teacher at Woodstock Academy; Sarah Yaiser, teacher at Wethersfield Public Schools; Michael Bond, Madison Public Schools teacher; Maria Hainer, school psychologist at Madison Public Schools; and Madison Public Schools teacher Tricia Edgar.

The lawsuit said Alfano had to drive three hours round trip each week in his free time to take a saliva test each week “without submitting to the highly invasive nasal swab test” until Friday. Michael also went a long way to get saliva tests — about 50 miles round trip, according to the lawsuit.

Yaiser was placed on administrative leave for four days after refusing vaccination and testing, the lawsuit said. She has since participated in weekly saliva tests “which require excessive travel filled with heavy and oppressive testing schedules,” according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit states that the plaintiffs had to “allow someone to push a long stick with a swab on it and swirl that stick inside their nasal passage/cavity” and that “the swab contains chemicals including the nature and security profile are unknown.”

The lawsuit alleges that the educators “have all suffered and continue to suffer physical harm as a result of these invasive tests”, including their DNA being “put at risk” as they “have no idea of ​​the third parties who end up in possession of their DNA”. samples,” as well as what ultimately happens to their DNA profiles after testing.

This is the latest in a series of challenges to Lamont’s executive orders stemming from his emergency powers during COVID-19. However, numerous challenges have failed, and the state Supreme Court in March 2021 issued an opinion upholding the constitutionality of Lamont’s emergency powers and authority to issue executive orders.

“As long as Governor Lamont is acting within this admittedly broad statutory and constitutional authority – which we conclude he is – it is not the job of this court to question these policy decisions,” the notice read.

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