Judge dismisses Hanford, PNNL lawsuit aiming to stop COVID-19 vaccine mandates

RICHLAND, Wash. — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit aiming to stop the COVID-19 vaccine mandates filed last November on behalf of hundreds of Hanford and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) workers in Richland.

Pete Serrano, the director and general counsel for the Silent Majority Foundation, and Nathan Arnold with Arnold & Jacobowitz PLLC in Seattle represented the 314 employees who sued.

Some of the plaintiffs in the case ranged from Department of Energy (DOE) employees, Hanford patrol officers to engineers, managers, nuclear operators, control technicians, and multiple PNNL employees.

Defendants in the lawsuit included DOE Hanford Manager Brian Vance and President Biden.

Now, Serrano and Arnold are working with the plaintiffs to figure out their next steps, as “U.S. Judge Thomas Rice found that lawyers for the Hanford and national lab workers had not provided clear arguments nor specific information about most workers to make their case,” according to The Associated Press.

“We believe that we are on the right side, whether or not these courts agree with it, but we’re going to persist to protect individual constitutional rights,” Serrano said. “We still believe that our plaintiffs’ rights are in flux, and we still need to continue to represent them.”

Serrano said they have two months to decide whether or not to send the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Currently, some of the employees represented do want to appeal while others feel the opposite.

“The key element is for those who have been placed on leave without pay or had their rights impacted… if they want to do something, we may take an alternative route to seek that compensation,” Serrano said.

That alternative route could mean a separate lawsuit on a discrimination basis.

“A discrimination lawsuit would be actually compensation through job loss or lost wages against the individual’s employer,” Serrano said.

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