Emails indicate Norfolk city manager is demanding vaccination status forms be completed by employees

Norfolk

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — As the delta variant contributes to rising cases in Hampton Roads and the rest of the country, places are mandating workers get vaccinated or submit to frequent testing.   

That came out in a recent news release that Norfolk and five other cities — Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, and Williamsburg — plan to conduct weekly COVID-19 testing for municipal employees who aren’t fully vaccinated.

That policy will be put in place by Oct. 1.

That has raised concerns from some Norfolk city workers, who met with 10 On Your Side Thursday. 

There is no room for misunderstanding. Norfolk city workers must fill in the Norfolk Employee Vaccination Status Form including question six, which states:

“Select a reason for not receiving a vaccination.  (If selecting “Other” please give an explanation.) 

  • Religious 
  • Medical  
  • Other”

The man we interviewed who works with the city doesn’t want to be identified, but believes this new policy is a privacy issue.

“It is a violation of my privacy. Will that information be used against me? It’s scary. What are they trying to get out of me?” he said.

Norfolk City Manager Chip Filer made it clear to another city official during a meeting, who then sent an email out to other department members.

It read: “Chip was absolutely firm and emphatic this is mandatory and all employees must complete. Period.” 

“Oh, it’s very heavy-handed. If you don’t fill it out, you will get written up, so simply not telling them your personal medical history, you are going to get written up,” the unidentified city worker told 10 On Your Side.

10 On Your Side pushed him to answer question 6.

“If I had to answer, I’d say the delta variant is not stopped by the vaccine. Anyone vaccinated or unvaccinated can get it, so what would be the point of getting vaccinated?” the worker said.

He said politics has nothing to do with him not wanting to get vaccinated. It is physical reasons and the potential for adverse or unknown reactions.  

The email continued: 

“For those who don’t comply [and fill in vaccination form] there will be a formal written reprimand placed in their personnel file.” 

The city sent this statement from spokesperson Lori Crouch:

“From the beginning of the pandemic, the City Manager has prioritized the health and safety of city employees.   He continued this commitment when Norfolk joined five other Hampton Roads localities and announced on August 12 that city employees who are not fully vaccinated by October 1 are required to take a weekly COVID test.  Implementing this next step requires a better understanding of the vaccination status of our workforce. We have consulted with the City Attorney’s office and other legal experts. All have verified that we can ask employees to verify their vaccination status.”

 We asked the city worker what will happen if he refuses to get vaccinated and refuses to be tested weekly. 

“What will happen? Oh, they are going to fire me. I think that’s what it is going to come down to. The entire matter of getting tested is to make your life so difficult that you just give in and get vaccinated,” he said. 

We asked him: Why not just get vaccinated? 

“I don’t feel it is appropriate for my employer to dictate that I am going to get some chemical injected into my body. There is no liability and if something happens. Nobody is on the hook,” he said. 

In the end, this city employee will have a tough choice to make.

“At this time, I really don’t know. I really can’t see myself getting the vaccine. I have drawn a hard line in the sand. If I were to hear some other evidence something to come out my mind is open. I’d be willing to change it,” he said.

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