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More than 100 Hennepin County employees risk being fired over vaccine mandate

According to the county, workers have until Friday, April 8 to turn in their proof of COVID-19 vaccination.

MINNEAPOLIS — Editor's note: The attached video first aired on April 4, 2022

Hennepin County employees have had months to get a COVID vaccine, and despite lawsuits and other attempts to stop the mandate, the deadline to turn in proof of vaccination is Friday, April 8.

Employees who do not may be fired or face other disciplinary action. According to Hennepin County spokesperson Carolyn Marinan, final details won't be released until next week.

The Hennepin County Board voted back in November 2021 to require the nearly 9,000 county employees to get vaccinated for COVID. The original due date for vaccination was Jan. 4, but was later pushed back to April.

Employees could receive a religious or medical exemption if they preferred that to getting the vaccine, and nearly 500 employees did. Those workers will be tested for COVID weekly.

More than 98% of county employees are vaccinated, but the remaining unvaccinated employees, more than one hundred of them, have been resistant to getting vaccinated.

The union representing Hennepin County sheriff's deputies sued the county over this mandate and asked for a temporary injunction on the vaccine deadline.

Hennepin County District Court Judge James Moore denied the request, ruling that the plaintiffs had not proven in their arguments that union members would be "irreparably harmed" by the vaccine policy. 

The Hennepin County Administrator stood behind the county board's decision saying: "Vaccines are the best way to protect employees and the public we serve from serious health impacts from COVID."

RELATED: More than 100 Hennepin County employees could lose their jobs

So what's next for the more than 100 employees who refuse the vaccine?

"Realistically there's still a significant argument that being unvaccinated at work imposes significant risk on your fellow employees, especially as you're thinking not just of this week but over the months ahead," said Jill Hasday, a professor of law at the University of Minnesota law professor. 

A majority of the staff that could be fired are low-wage workers that are people of color and women.

County officials say they anticipate that most of the remaining employees will the April 8 vaccination deadline.

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