A judge Monday pared a lawsuit filed by one current Beverly Hills firefighter and a former member of the department who both challenged the city’s decisions in enforcing Los Angeles County’s health care worker COVID-19 vaccination mandate to a single cause of action for retaliation.
Plaintiffs Josh Sattley, who was fired for not getting vaccinated, and Ettore Berardinelli Jr., who was granted a religious exemption and is still with the department, sued the city of Beverly Hills, Los Angeles County and Beverly Hills City Councilman John A Mirisch.
On Monday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Barbara M. Scheper dismissed the pair’s claims against the city for declaratory relief and both religious and disability discrimination.
“Here, plaintiffs have failed to allege requisite facts regarding the belief held by Sattley that conflicted with mandatory COVID vaccination,” Scheper wrote.
However, in keeping the retaliation claim alive, Scheper found that Sattley engaged in “protected activity” by seeking a religious exemption to the vaccination mandate and by filing a lawsuit.
Scheper noted in her ruling that the plaintiffs had dropped their causes of action for injunctive relief, equal protection, civil rights violations and violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act.
The judge previously dismissed the county and Mirisch as defendants.
Also a plaintiff in the suit brought last Dec. 10 is the organization Protection for the Educational Rights of Kids. The organization’s website describes it as a grassroots organization dedicated to empowering parents, educators and parents to take an active role in education-centered legislation.
Dr. Muntu Davis, the county’s health officer, issued an order in August 2021 requiring all health care workers in Los Angeles County get a COVID-19 vaccine, including firefighters. While some employers have recognized requests for religious and medical exemptions, Beverly Hills wanted universal vaccination, according to the suit.
“It subjected firefighters who requested a religious exemption, like Mr. Sattley and Mr. Berardinelli, to cross-examination designed to undermine their credibility and to pressure them, under threat of prosecution, to give up their religious freedom and get the shot,” the suit states.
Although Berardinelli received a religious exemption that was extended in the fall of 2021, he has been under constant review by the city and subjected to retaliation, including being reassigned to a different job that receives fewer calls, the suit alleges. Berardinelli recovered from a COVID-19 infection and believes he has natural immunity, the suit states.