RI health care workers challenge state’s vaccine mandate as deadline nears

Coronavirus

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A group of Rhode Island health care workers have filed a federal lawsuit challenging the state’s vaccine mandate, arguing that it’s unconstitutional because it doesn’t allow for religious exemptions.

The lawsuit comes one week before the Oct. 1 deadline, which is when the state is requiring all health care workers to be fully vaccinated against the virus or risk losing their jobs.

Rhode Island, according to the lawsuit, “stands nearly alone in even attempting to outlaw this right.”

“Rhode Island is not an island unto itself,” the lawsuit states. “If across America religious exemptions can be accommodated consistent with patient safety, then as a matter of law and logic, the same applies here.”

Only two other states don’t allow for religious exemptions to their vaccine mandates: Maine and New York. But both states are facing their own challenges. Health care workers in Maine have filed their own lawsuit, and earlier this week, a federal judge issued a temporary injunction against New York’s mandate.

Rhode Island’s lawsuit is seeking an injunction from the mandate itself on the grounds that it will lead to religious discrimination.

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