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Montgomery County Public Schools staff member sues over COVID-19 vaccine requirement

The lawsuit claims there is no vaccine exemption for religious beliefs.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. — A Montgomery County Public School (MCPS) staff member is suing the school district over its vaccine mandate.

According to the lawsuit filed by the Center for American Liberty, the staff member listed as John Doe sought a religious exemption from the district's vaccine mandate and was not granted one.

MCPS is requiring all staff members to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 29. Per a Montgomery County Board of Education resolution, staff members are required to have their first COVID-19 vaccine shot by Sept. 30. 

“When Montgomery county published its policy recently it said that the policy would permit medical exemptions, but made no mention of religious exemptions," Harmeet Dhillon, the CEO and Founder of the Center for American Liberty said. “So that's why we filed this lawsuit to secure our client’s Title Seven and state law employment rights, as well as his constitutional right to equal protection."

The suit, first reported by the Bethesda Beat, said Doe believes getting the COVID-19 vaccine would be a sin and one he claims he could lose his job over. 

"Their policy is that if you don't get vaccinated and you don't have a medical exemption, that's what the policy says, nothing about religious exemptions, you will be terminated. So, you know that's obviously problematic for somebody who wants to continue in his job," Dhillon said.

RELATED: As MCPS vaccine deadline gets closer, online petition warns of job terminations

After a court hearing on Wednesday Dhillon said government lawyers said there was a religious exemption, it’s just not spelled out in the school district’s vaccine policy.

"The county’s lawyers told the judge we do have a religious exemption it's just not in our policy," Dhillon said. "That's very odd because typically when you see policies regarding this type of issue the religious exemption and the medical exemption are mentioned in the same sentence, certainly in the same paragraph." 

Dhillon also said their client is not the only MCPS employee who wants a religious exemption but is the first to sue over it. The attorney said there could be other staff members following suit.  

MCPS did not immediately respond to WUSA9's inquiry about its policy for unvaccinated employees. A district spokesperson previously said more information about enforcement of the mandate would be available in the weeks ahead. 

WATCH NEXT: Petition against MCPS vaccine mandate warns of job terminations

By Thursday, all MCPS employees will need to show proof that they have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

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