In a faint historical echo of Jews being forced to don a “yellow badge” as a means of public identification during the World War II years, Charlottesville City now will require its employees who refuse to take a COVID vaccination to don a face mask indefinitely.
A February 17 Human Resources memo entitled “Administration of COVID-19 Vaccine for City Employees to Promote Infectious Disease Prevention”—signed by City Manager, Chip Boyles— compels employees to either accept a COVID-19 vaccination or endorse a “declination form.”
The form and appurtenant documentation—which non-complying employees are ordered to sign—contains punitive measures and dubious claims in addition to possible violations of Charlottesville City employees’ medical and privacy rights, as follow:
- The vaccine does not cause COVID-19 infection.
- Strains of COVID-19 virus may change and, even if they over time. This is why vaccination is recommended regardless of whether I previously tested positive for COVID-19.
- I will be required to wear a mask whenever entering any City facility even after mask requirements are lifted, if I did not receive the COVID-19 vaccination. A mask will be worn anytime I come into contact with the general public and/or other employees during this public health emergency.
- I have been given the opportunity to be vaccinated with COVID-19 vaccine, at no charge to myself. However, I decline COVID-19 vaccination at this time. I understand that by declining this vaccine, I continue to be at risk of acquiring COVID-19 and spreading it to other people. If in the future I want to be vaccinated with COVID-19 vaccine, I can receive the vaccine at no charge by request to the City of Charlottesville and revoke this Declination form.
- I also agree and understand that declining the COVID-19 vaccine may result in limits to my eligibility for performing my essential and non-essential duties and/or training opportunities to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to other employees and/or the general public.
Employees who do not vaccinate also face public identification of their vaccination status via the mandate to wear a mask presently and “after mask requirements are lifted” whenever “entering any City facility” or when contacting “the general public and/or other employees.” As a result, unvaccinated employees could be subjected to public and workplace shaming and humiliation as well as personal and professional discrimination.
While the City policy does not reference allowance for employees to claim medical or religious exemption from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, an internal backlash is brewing as concerned employees covertly are examining legal options.