D.C. Mayor moves to fire unvaccinated firefighters by rejecting religious exemptions [EXCLUSIVE]
PART 4- Captain Mike Engels has to get vaccinated or lose his career over vaccine mandate in 2022
Readers of “Emily Posts” newsletter had the first exclusive interview with D.C. Fire Captain Mike Engels when he decided to go public about how the vaccine mandate affected the city’s first responders.
After my story was published, Engels was invited on Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox News, which you can see here. Unfortunately, I’m writing about Engels again because the D.C. mayor is about to fire him, along with all the unvaccinated firefighters.
“There is a real chance I am jobless in two weeks' time,” D.C. Fire Captain Mike Engels told me on Friday.
The city just denied his request to be exempt from the COVID-19 vaccine mandate due to his religious beliefs. D.C. says it would be too much of a “hardship” on the city to accommodate him.
Engels has one week to appeal, and a final decision will come 10 days later. But he’s not hopeful the city will stop the ball rolling to firing him. His only other option to stay in the fire department where he’s worked for 21 years is to get vaccinated now — at the end of the pandemic.
CATCH UP: D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser mandated last summer that city workers get vaccinated and boosted or get fired. Hundreds of police officers and firefighters refused to get the vax and filed for expemptions, mostly based on their religious beliefs. Read my story on them here.
This year, Bowser tacked on a booster mandate, which more firefighters are protesting, in my story here.
I asked the mayor’s office and the officials in the various agencies in the city government enforcing the vaccine mandate for answers. No one has responded to me by the time this newsletter was published. Below are the questions I sent them that I think the public has a right to know from the mayor:
Why is the mayor terminating firefighters now? The city-wide vaccine mandate ended, the cases are low, and the science that vaccines aren't stopping the spread -- what is the reasoning?
Staffing issues are caused by vaccinated and unvaccinated BOTH getting covid -- so why terminate the unvaccinated only?
The city's COVID testing program for unvaccinated employees seems to be working fine, so why does she have to cancel it and fire them instead?
How many city employees have requested to not be vaccinated? How many of those are being denied for the hardships and getting fired?
I’ve also asked the Fire Department spokeswoman for these numbers but have not heard back.
In September, Engels wrote the city to request the exemption. This is part of his letter uploaded below:
…my sincere religious belief that prevents me from taking any vaccine produced, developed, tested, or otherwise associated with aborted fetus cell lines…
Taking the vaccine would threaten my relationship with both God and my own spiritual well-being.
The letter to Engels this week (uploaded at the bottom) from the D.C. Human Resources Department says his request for a religious accommodation was declined because it “poses an undue hardship to the agency and the District.”
The city doesn’t tell Engels any specifics. Instead, the letter lists all these bullet points of the possible “hardship”:
Employee coverage and scheduling issues.
Monitoring issues related to ongoing tracking of test results and uploading proof.
Significant financial cost such as cost of testing kits and lab work, cost of loss of services to the District from employee absences due to COVID-19, and payment of workers compensation in the event of COVID-19 transmission at work and resulting illness.
Safety and health risk to District employees and members of the public with whom you may come in contact with while at work.
Interference with your agency’s mission and business needs.
The fourth bullet point is the most absurd of the city’s “hardships.” Engels and his unvaccinated colleagues are not “a safety and health risk” to the public, any more than the vaccinated. Captain Engels has been at work from the very beginning of COVID — when some first responders refused — and his lack of vaccination hasn’t hurt anyone.
Engels is angry that the city didn’t even try to match a “hardship” to his actual job and religious beliefs. “The city is supposed to evaluate, as they said, in a case-by-case basis. This is just a blanket excuse,” he said.
It makes no logical sense — much less health, science or medical— that Mayor Bowser is…
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to Emily Posts News to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.