Seven Colorado-based construction trade associations sued the city of Denver on Thursday over the city’s vaccine mandate.
The lawsuit seeks to block the vaccine mandate for private construction contractors who work with the city, arguing that construction companies should not be required to enforce the city’s mandate on their workers, that the mandate doesn’t apply to contractors and that the mandate is unconstitutional, among other arguments.
“Plaintiffs support vaccinations and have made significant efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” the lawsuit reads. “However, Denver cannot legally or practically conscript the private sector to enforce the order for it.”
The lawsuit also names Robert McDonald, executive director of the city’s health department, and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock as defendants. The trade associations pursuing the action claim the city’s vaccine mandate will deplete contractor workforces, resulting in delays to city projects and higher construction costs. The lawsuit notes that the construction industry employs many people of color who may be “vaccine-hesitant due to mistrust of the government.”
“One contractor reports that approximately 68% of its construction workforce and 23% of professional staff are unvaccinated as of this filing,” the lawsuit said.
The trade organizations are seeking a judge’s order to nullify the order as it applies to contractors.
Seven Denver police officers brought a similar claim against the city last week; their case was dismissed Wednesday on the grounds that they did not first exhaust administrative remedies before bringing the lawsuit.
A spokeswoman for the Denver City Attorney’s Office declined to comment on the new lawsuit and an attorney for the trade associations did not immediately return a request for comment.
Denver’s mandate covers city employees and contractors, as well as some private-sector workers, including people who work in health care, at correctional facilities, and at public and private schools.
Beginning Friday, city employees who refuse to be vaccinated “under any circumstances” will face being fired, officials have said. Other employees not in compliance can expect to receive 10-day unpaid suspensions followed by termination if they are still out of compliance at the end of the suspension.
While construction contractors are not city employees, the trade associations expect the city to fine companies as much as $5,000 per day if they are not in compliance with the mandate, the lawsuit says.
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