LOS ANGELES — A judge in July ruled in favor of the union representing Los Angeles Police Department officers who are suing the city over its requirement that employees who are not vaccinated for the coronavirus do their own COVID-19 testing pay is asked by the rank – and-file to reinforce his order directing the city to bear the cost.
The Los Angeles Police Protective League claimed that charging employees the cost of testing violated the state labor code. Los Angeles Superior Court Justice Rupert A. Byrdsong announced his decision on July 13 after a brief trial.
But on Sept. 15, the city’s human resources department issued an order for unvaccinated employees who, according to union attorneys’ court filings, have requested exemptions from the city’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate. The city’s order says workers who screen with Bluestone, the city’s exclusively contracted COVID-19 testing provider, must provide Bluestone with employees’ health insurance information by Friday, according to court filings from union attorneys.
The union returns to court Monday to seek a restraining order from Byrdsong preventing the city from enforcing its September 15 order.
“Payments to Bluestone by an employee’s health insurance plan for the cost of COVID-19 testing, even if Bluestone accepts that payment as payment in full, still passes the city’s operating costs on to employees,” which violates the Labor Code, union attorneys argue theirs court records.
If employees fail to provide required health insurance information by the deadline, they will be required to take testing with an outside testing provider and will also be subject to any applicable insurance deductibles and co-pay papers, according to the union’s Attorneys’ Court.
The union’s lawsuit, filed Oct. 19, challenged the city’s requirement that unvaccinated employees pay $65 per test twice a week for their COVID tests.
The state Labor Code requires employers to compensate workers for any necessary expenses or losses incurred by the worker “as a direct result of the performance of his duties or his obedience to the instructions of the employer,” according to the union court filings.
In their court filings, attorneys for the prosecutor’s office claimed the union could not show that the cost of COVID-19 testing incurred by its members was a “necessary” expense that the city was required to compensate under the Labor Code.