CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Nearly 600 Mecklenburg County employees were suspended on Wednesday without pay for violating the county’s COVID-19 testing and vaccination policy.
Beginning September 7th, county employees were required to complete weekly COVID-19 tests, if they were not vaccinated or had not submitted their vaccination status.
On Wednesday, county officials say 598 employees received suspension notices for not complying with the countywide policy.
The Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department was hit the hardest, with 221 employees being suspended, followed by the Department of Social Services, with 128 employees being suspended.
Officials say these employees will remain on unpaid suspension until they provide proof of vaccination or submit a negative COVID-19 test.
County officials say almost 70 percent of the county’s full time employees are fully vaccinated, which means the non-compliant employees make up 13.5 percent of current active employees.
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 Bernard Tisdale, an employment attorney with Jackson Lewis Law.
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.