Former Eastside firefighters file $170 million-plus claim following vaccine mandate dispute

Some of them say they’re less focused on money — and more hopeful there’s still a chance of getting their jobs back.

KING COUNTY, Wash. – A group of former Eastside Fire and Rescue firefighters say they are seeking millions in tort claims, citing expected lost wages, mental distress and defamation of character.

Rocky Martinez said he worked for Eastside for nearly two decades before the state’s vaccination mandate went into effect.

“Things were great up until the mandate went into effect, it’s kind of disheartening because all the time, energy, blood sweat and tears, the sacrifices, lack of family events, that kind of thing for Eastside, and then I was treated worse than trash ,” Martinez said.

The Eastside chief said the department gave firefighters the opportunity to make exceptions and precautions, although firefighters filing claims disagree on the fairness of the process.

“We don’t want to file a lawsuit, that doesn’t help anyone, it doesn’t help the community to file a lawsuit against Eastside Fire because ultimately it’s not the fire chief, it’s not the board that’s paying for this – it’s the constituents and the taxpayers, who are suffering this loss,” Martinez said.

Eastside Fire and Rescue released a statement in response to questions about the tort claims, stating:

“Eastside Fire & Rescue continues to prioritize the health and safety of our communities by aligning with the Governor’s proclamation and the Covid-19 mandate.

The organization is not aware of any tort claims against the department. However, Eastside Fire & Rescue cannot comment on ongoing legal proceedings or threats of legal proceedings by any organization.

The department offered all unvaccinated responders the opportunity to apply for an exemption and participate in a placement process. EF&R takes the EEOC complaints seriously and is committed to the investigation.” Former Eastside firefighters file $170 million-plus claim following vaccine mandate dispute

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