A judge who in July ruled in favor of the union representing Los Angeles Police Department officers, which sued the city over its requirement that employees unvaccinated against the coronavirus pay for their own COVID-19 testing, is being asked by the rank-and-file to reinforce his order directing the city to absorb the expenses.
The Los Angeles Police Protective League maintained that putting the testing expenses on employees violated the state Labor Code. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rupert A. Byrdsong issued his ruling after a brief jury trial on July 13.
But on Sept. 15, the city’s Personnel Department issued an order to unvaccinated employees who have filed for exemptions from the city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, according to the union attorneys’ court papers. The city’s directive says that workers screening with the city’s exclusively contracted COVID-19 testing vendor Bluestone must provide the employees’ medical insurance information to Bluestone by Friday, according to the union lawyers’ court papers.
The union is returning to court Monday to ask Byrdsong for a temporary restraining order preventing the city from enforcing its Sept. 15 order.
“Payment to Bluestone by an employee’s medical insurance for the costs of COVID-19 testing, even if Bluestone accepts that payment as payment in full, still passes the city’s operating expenses onto the employees” in violation of the Labor Code, union attorneys argue in their court papers.
If the employees do not provide the required medical insurance information by the deadline, they will need to test with third-party testing vendors and would also be subject to any applicable insurance deductibles and co-payments, according to the union lawyers’ court papers.
The union’s lawsuit, filed last Oct. 19, challenged the city’s demand that unvaccinated employees to pay for their COVID tests, at $65 per test, twice a week.
The state Labor Code mandates that employers compensate employees for all necessary expenditures or losses incurred by the worker “in direct consequence of the discharge of his or her duties, or of his or her obedience to the directions of the employer,” according to the union’s court papers.
In their court papers, lawyers for the City Attorney’s Office maintained that the union could not show that the COVID-19 testing costs incurred by their members were “necessary” expenses requiring the city to compensate them under the Labor Code.