CHARLOTTE, NC – Nearly 600 Mecklenburg county employees are at home, on unpaid suspension for disobeying the vaccination and testing rules.
About half of the suspensions issued Wednesday went to full time workers.
Two Hundred and twenty one are from the Parks and Rec department, 128 are from the Department of Social Services and 249 are from other county government departments.
The numbers include roughly 13% of the entire county workforce.
“Everybody had hoped that we’d be out of this by now,” said Bernard Tisdale, an employment attorney with Jackson Lewis law firm.
He says he’s not surprised to see businesses and governments moving forward with vaccine mandates.
“We’ve got to find some way to stay on our feet economically. And this has really kind of become the natural progression,” explained Tisdale.
The county’s move comes as the Biden administration is meeting with business leaders to work on ways to increase vaccinations while keeping the economy pushing forward.. Last week, Biden directed the Labor Department to work on guidance requiring all businesses with 100 or more employees to implement mandates.
“In total, these vaccination requirements will cover 100 million workers, two thirds of all workers, and builds on previous requirements that we’ve installed so far,” said Biden.
“It’s likely going to be immediately hit with lawsuits,” said Tisdale.
Tisdale says the question is if the lawsuits will be successful.
He says if employers decided to enforce a vaccine mandate; the employee’s will likely have to comply unless they have a legitimate religious or medical reason not to.
“It’s going to be very difficult for an employee , without one of the two exceptions to then show discrimination because I was treated just like everybody else,” said Tisdale.
About 70% of county employees are fully vaccinated. As for the suspended employees, they won’t be allowed to return to work and receive pay until they show proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test.