SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — A dozen San Francisco firefighters who lost their jobs after they refused to be vaccinated against COVID filed a lawsuit against the city and its fire chief.

A civil suit filed on June 13 claims firefighters refused to comply with the city’s vaccine mandate because of “sincere religious beliefs.”

Firefighters say they were mocked and hazed in fire stations by colleagues and superiors for being unvaccinated. Eventually, the unvaccinated firefighters were placed on leave, terminated, or forced to retire.

“Plaintiffs were harassed, threatened, coerced, mocked and belittled by their superiors as a consequence of their religious beliefs,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit argues that vaccines fail to prevent the virus from spreading, and thus, the city has no right to require them.

“At no time was any consideration made by the city with respect to how these dedicated city employees could be accommodated, even in the face of mounting evidence that the vaccinations were not effective at preventing the spread of COVID,” according to the lawsuit.

Fire Chief Jeanine Nicholson said in emergencies, fire stations need “all hands on deck,” and it was not logistically possible to accommodate non-vaccinated firefighters.

Former firefighter Michael Kricken fought to keep his job for months. When he was allowed to make his case to the fire department’s commission for a disciplinary hearing, he said, “God gave me natural immunity. That’s why I beat COVID the first time.”

The San Francisco Fire Commission “separated” Kricken from his position on March 16.

Another firefighter, Jessica Lindsey, said she was “relentlessly harassed by other employees regarding her religious beliefs, her ancestry, and told by her superior, Chief Kircher, that he thought only ‘fat’ and ‘white’ people shared her beliefs,” according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit repeatedly points out that vaccines are not 100 percent effective against infections. As one example, the suit states that SFFD Chief Nicholson tested positive for the virus in December.

“By late December of 2021, it became clear to the City and County of San Francisco, as well as (Fire Chief) Jeanine Nicholson … that COVID-19 vaccine were not preventing COVID-19 infections among their 100% vaccinated workforce. Between December of 2021 and February of 2022, after a 100% vaccination requirement was enforced, record numbers of San Francisco firefighters were out on workers compensation leave following COVID-19 infection,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit also argues that the “long-term side effects” of the vaccinations are “presently unknown.”

All of the firefighters’ religious exemption requests were denied by city officials. In one thwarted request, a Catholic firefighter wrote, “The Roman Catholic Church teaches that a person may be required to refuse a medical intervention, including vaccination, if his or her informed conscience comes to this sure judgement. A Catholic may judge it wrong to receive certain vaccines for a variety of reasons.”

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The lawsuit demands that the city immediately reinstate the firefighters and provide monetary compensation for lost wages.