Even though the Gainesville City Commission voted to reconsider its vaccine mandate, the court battle between Gainesville and more than 200 of its employees has reheated after the city filed a motion for reconsideration on Monday.
Jeff Childers, attorney for the city employees, released a statement on Thursday afternoon denouncing the city’s new motion as a rehash of the same arguments that lost the original legal dispute on Sept. 22, when Judge Monica Brasington issued an emergency injunction against the city.
“We responded to [the motion] appropriately, reiterating and expanding on our arguments from the hearing,” Childers said in the release.
The motion says the wrong legal standard was applied to the city and “the court should have distinguished government proprietary action from legislative action.”
Gainesville’s motion also said Floridians’ right under the state constitution to be left alone from government intrusion in personal life “cannot hold absolute when you opt for the government to be your boss and you are the employee.”
The court will now evaluate the city’s motion and the plaintiff’s response.
The issue of mandatory masking seemed resolved after Gainesville’s Sept. 23 meeting, when the commission voted 6-1 to reconsider the mandate.
Commissioner David Arreola, who motioned to reconsider the mandate, said he’d like to see a plan in place that is similar to one President Joe Biden’s administration released.
He also included language to have city employees engage with collective bargaining leaders and prepare alternatives for an employee vaccine plan.
“Reconsidering Gainesville’s vaccine mandate was a difficult decision,” Arreola said in a Facebook post on Oct. 1. “It came after lengthy talks with union leaders who supported an employer vaccination plan, just not a mandate. I continue to believe vaccination is the best way to protect our community.”
Past story timeline:
- Aug. 10: Gainesville City Commission votes 4-3 to require employee COVID-19 vaccination.
- Aug. 19: Commission extends mandatory vaccination date to Oct. 30 and adds contractors.
- August 26: More than 200 city employees file suit against the city for the vaccine policy.
- Aug. 27: Attorney Jeff Childers and State Representative Keith Perry speak to city employees at a rally outside city hall.
- Sept. 20: Judge said she expects to rule quickly after hearing the arguments.
- Sept. 22: Judge barrs Gainesville’s vaccine mandate.
- Sept. 23: City commission votes to reconsider mandate and seek alternatives.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated.