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Corrections employees sue state over COVID-19 vaccine or testing mandate

Several dozen employees of the Illinois Department of Corrections are suing the state over COVID-19 vaccine or testing mandates.

A lawsuit filed in Christian County Circuit Court requests a temporary restraining order. A hearing is set for Friday, April 15.

The 46 employees work at 18 different correctional facilities run by the state of Illinois.

In one of the filings from attorney Thomas DeVore on behalf of the plaintiffs, the lawsuit contends under Illinois law, “an individual may refuse to receive vaccines, medications or other treatments.”

IDOC was one of the last holdouts of state employees Gov. J.B. Pritzker mandated last fall to be vaccinated as a condition of employment. After reaching an impasse, Pritzker and the union representing more than 10,000 IDOC employees negotiated through interest arbitration. An arbitration panel in December said IDOC employees should be mandated to get the vaccine.

Plaintiffs played no role in those negotiations, the lawsuit said.

“If the State Employees refuse to submit to vaccination or testing, the Defendants are threatening their livelihood by threatening to place them on no-pay administrative leave into perpetuity until he or she complies,” the lawsuit said. The employees “have not been deemed to be a public health risk by any certified local health department and have not been subjected to any vaccination or testing request by any certified local health department.”

If vaccinations are to be required, the lawsuit contends “this can only be accomplished by the certified local health departments following procedural and substantive due process.”

DeVore has secured temporary restraining orders in similar situations, including most recently against Chicago Public Schools where several employees sued to block vaccine or testing mandates.

The IDOC employees suing the state come from the Big Muddy River Correctional Center, the Centralia Correctional Center, the Dixon Correctional Center, East Moline Corrections, the Graham Correctional Center, the Hill Correctional Center, the Illinois River Correctional Center, the Illinois Joliet Treatment Center, the Illinois Lawrence Correctional Center, the Illinois Lincoln Correctional Center, the Illinois Logan Correctional Center, the Illinois Pontiac Correctional Center, the Illinois Robinson Correctional Center, the Illinois Shawnee Correctional Center, the Illinois Taylorville Correctional Center, the Illinois Vienna Correctional Center, the Western Illinois Correctional Center, and the Illinois Jacksonville Correctional Center.

A spokesperson for IDOC couldn’t be reached for comment.

This article originally appeared on The Center Square.

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