Suspended LAFD firefighters called back to work after vax mandate ends could still be fired

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

LOS ANGELES – Several Los Angeles City firefighters who were put on paid leave over the last few years for not getting the COVID-19 vaccine have been ordered back to work following the expiration of the city’s employee vaccine mandate. However, they could still be fired pending Board of Rights hearings.

The LA City Council voted to end the vaccine mandate for city employees last week, more than a year after the city ended its COVID-related public health emergency. 

When the mandate was active, several city firefighters were put on paid administrative leave for refusing to get vaccinated, and many more were fired. Now, with the vaccine mandate no longer in place, the Los Angeles Fire Department is calling those put on paid leave back into the field. But, the city still plans to have those firefighters go through their Board of Rights hearings, which could ultimately result in them being fired.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: LA ends controversial vaccine mandate for city employees

FOX 11 obtained an email from the City Attorney’s Office that was sent to an attorney representing firefighters being called back. In the email, the City Attorney’s Office said, “Now that the vaccine mandate has ended and they are able to return to work without the previously required vaccination, continuing to pay them to stay home and do nothing prior to selection of their Board[ of Rights hearings] would be an inappropriate gift of public funds.”

John Knox, who was fired from the department after more than two decades and represents the firefighters being called back, called it “outrageous.”

“Come back to work, be a good soldier, but we’re still going to continue to terminate you through that process, for a mandate or a condition of employment that doesn’t exist anymore,” said Knox.

Ahead of last week’s City Council vote, Councilmember Traci Park told FOX 11’s Marla Tellez that the plan following the end of the vaccine mandate would create a path for those who have been fired to get their jobs back. It’s not clear if those firefighters still facing Board of Rights hearings will be fired, or if they’ll be offered the same path to get their jobs back that’s being offered to those who’ve already been fired.

Many other city employees were also terminated for not adhering to the mandate, and have lawsuits against the City, alleging their firings were illegal.

FOX 11 has reached out to the City and the LAFD, but has not yet heard back.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.