(RepublicanPress.org) – Controversy continues to surround the use of vaccine mandates. Governmental agencies and private companies typically offer exceptions for religious reasons and to individuals with pre-existing medical conditions that contraindicate the use of vaccines. However, they didn’t protect a group of Tennessee workers from getting placed on unpaid leave, prompting a federal judge’s intervention.
On Friday, October 15, US District Court Judge Charles Atchley issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting the University of Tennessee-Battelle’s Oak Ridge National Lab from placing workers who received vaccine exemptions on unpaid leave or firing them. Six lab employees filed the lawsuit shortly after the university laid off about 140 employees for this reason.
New: A Tennesee federal judge has issued a temporary restraining order halting a federal contractor at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory from placing employees with medical or religious exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccine on unpaid leave. pic.twitter.com/qvjyXq4dUY
— F U N K Y ™ 9.0 (@TownAngele) October 17, 2021
UT-Battelle officials conducted interviews with some of its workers to determine their eligibility to receive exceptions to the mandate. Then, two days in a row, interviewees tested positive for COVID-19. Additionally, the university didn’t receive the test results for one of the workers until after the interview, “potentially exposing panel members to the virus,” according to UT-Battee.
University officials promptly ended future interviews and laid off all unvaccinated workers, claiming that its experience during late summer and early fall demonstrated that testing didn’t sufficiently decrease the risk of “onsite transmission” of COVID-19. It also claimed remote work efforts during the pandemic proved ineffective versus requiring workers to show up at the lab.
Judge Atchley said he would issue an order regarding the continuance of his restraining order on October 29, once he has a chance to conduct a full hearing.
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