More workers sue US nuclear lab over vaccine mandate


ALBUQUERQUE, N. M. (AP) — Another group of workers is suing Los Alamos National Laboratory over its COVID-19 vaccine mandate, arguing that the requirement discriminates against employees who sought religious or medical exemptions.

The complaint was filed Friday in federal court by the Thomas More Society, a Chicago-based law firm, on behalf of eight workers. Under the lab's policy, those with religious exemptions have to use vacation time or go without pay until they are allowed to return to work, and it's up to lab management to determine when it’s safe for them to return.

“This is discrimination, pure and simple,” special counsel Tyler Brooks said Tuesday in a statement. “Los Alamos claims to have offered exemptions for those who have sincere religious reasons for not taking a mandatory COVID vaccine, but their one-size-fits-all so-called ‘accommodation’ is flagrantly illegal. Accommodation by termination has never been a lawful option.”

The lab said Tuesday in a statement that its most important asset is its workforce and that vaccination is the best tool it has to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at the lab, where nearly 99% of workers are vaccinated. However, the lab did not address questions about what protections it might offer its workforce given that state health officials repeatedly have warned that vaccinated people can still become infected and spread the virus.

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