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Judge rules in favor of county in lawsuit over vaccine mandate

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On Friday, May 6, a federal district judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by two former employees of the Doña Ana County Detention Center over Doña Ana County’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement.

In a 34-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Martha Vázquez upheld the County’s vaccination policy, stating the mandate did not violate federal law.

Per the ruling, vaccination requirements, like other public-health measures, have been common in this nation. In line with a previous Supreme Court ruling, the court held that a “community has the right to protect itself against an epidemic of disease which threatens the safety of its members.”

On January 20, 2021, Doña Ana County Manager Fernando Macias issued a requirement that all Doña Ana County first responders must be vaccinated against COVID-19. The deadline of the first dose was by February 5, 2021, unless a documented ADA or EEO exception is granted by the County’s human resources department. The memo explained the vaccination directive as in accordance with the County’s duty to provide and maintain a workplace that is free of known hazards, to safeguard the health of employees, families, customers, and the community at-large.

“We are satisfied with the judge’s ruling since the vaccines are proven to be effective in reducing serious illness, hospitalization and the likelihood of spreading the virus,” County Manager Macias said. We considered all applicable laws and guidance from local health authorities. We think it is paramount to protect our first responders who must have face-to-face contact with the public in ways that may increase the risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19. Today, this ruling, supported by the law, reinforced our decision.”

Both former county employees refused the vaccine and did not request an accommodation. One employee ultimately quit their employment due to refusal of the directive while the other was terminated.

For more information about Doña Ana County, please visit www.donaanacounty.org.