A gaggle of Air Power officers is suing the service in an Ohio federal court docket after being denied non secular exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
The lawsuit, which names Air Power Secretary Frank Kendall as a defendant, alleges that the service employs a double commonplace when approving exemption requests that favors medical and administrative exemptions.
The plaintiffs are asking the court docket to declare the mandate unconstitutional, and bar the Air Power from taking “enforcement/punitive motion” towards them whereas the case is underway.
“The Division of the Air Power has didn’t approve all however a small handful of non secular lodging requests, and people requests, upon data and perception, are for airmen who’re near the terminal finish of their service,” reads the criticism.
“Whereas on the similar time, the Division of the Air Power has authorised 1000’s of administrative or medical exemptions to the identical necessities,” it continues.
An Air Power spokesperson instructed The Hill that the service is conscious of the filings, however doesn’t touch upon pending litigation.
The lawsuit, which was filed on Feb. 16, got here a day after a federal choose in Georgia blocked the Air Power from booting a service member who had non secular objections to the vaccine.
Energetic-duty service members had till Nov. 2 to be vaccinated, whereas Air Nationwide Guard and Reservists got till Dec. 31.
The Air Power first stated on Feb. 8 that it granted 9 service members non secular exemptions from the vaccine mandate. In line with knowledge launched Tuesday, the service has authorised 13 non secular exemptions from the vaccine requirement.
The plaintiffs, which embrace a gaggle of officers and reservists, all say they spoke with a army chaplain to confirm the sincerity of their beliefs, however they have been nonetheless denied.
A few of them additionally say that they had pure immunity from earlier infections with COVID-19.
“The granting of a couple of thousand medical and administrative exemptions belies any assertion that vaccination is mission-critical and that no exemptions might be granted,” reads the criticism.
Throughout the army, the companies obtain 1000’s of requests for non secular exemptions however have solely authorised a small quantity.
The Marine Corps which was the primary service grant non secular exemptions to the mandate in mid-January, disclosed on Thursday that it has granted six out of over 3,600 requests it has acquired.
The Navy has additionally stated it conditionally granted one non secular lodging for a member of its Particular person Prepared Reserve, however that individual must be vaccinated earlier than returning to lively service.
The Military has but to grant any non secular lodging.