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The city of Urbandale sent an email to employees earlier this month letting them know the city would be implementing a COVID-19 vaccination, testing and face-covering policy effective today.

An email sent by the city’s Human Resources Director, a person called Erin Freeman, states the city decided not to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations. The city instead chose to enforce “weekly testing and face mask mandates for unvaccinated employees.”

“This is consistent with plans being made by surrounding cities,” Freeman wrote in her email. “In order to comply with this new standard, the City of Urbandale will be implementing a COVID-19 Vaccination, Testing and Face Covering policy effective Dec. 29, 2021.”

Freeman wrote the changes are “necessary” to comply with OSHA’s emergency temporary standard. And, she added, it will help safeguard the health of employees and their families.

“Employees will be responsible for identifying and paying for their own weekly COVID tests, should they choose to not be vaccinated, beginning the week of Jan. 9, 2022,” Freeman wrote. “To ensure minimum staffing levels are met, the City will attempt to keep a limited supply of free test kits available for essential personnel when they are unable to locate a kit on their own, however this cannot be guaranteed.

“Employees that fail to comply with the testing and face-covering provisions of this policy will be placed on unpaid ve leave pending disciplinary action.”

Freeman wrote that the city understands not all employees will agree with the new requirements, but it has an “obligation to comply” with the standards or face stiff penalties for noncompliance.

Employees are required to submit a “declaration of vaccination status” and attach proof of vaccination no later than Jan. 5.

Unvaccinated employees must submit proof of a negative COVID-19 test before reporting for their first shift on or after Jan. 9 — and then at least weekly thereafter.

“It is recommended that you start researching options now for regular testing so you are prepared to comply with this requirement,” Freeman wrote.

The policy document attached in the email said the policy applies to all employees and elected officials. Employees providing false documentation, even after the policy is no longer in effect, may face criminal penalties and will be subject to termination.

Perhaps the most ironic portion of the policy is the one that reads:

“Employees are protected against discrimination and/or retaliation as a result of COVID-19 vaccination status, testing and face coverings by the anti-harassment policy in the Employee Handbook.”

Uh, the entire policy discriminates against an entire class of people — the unvaccinated — by putting on them requirements that are not on those who are vaccinated.

And if you live in Urbandale, these people are running your city and your government.

The city is generously allowing employees to use up to two workdays of their own accrued sick leave immediately following each injection if they have side effects that prevent them from working.

Reasonable accommodations are offered to the testing and/or face-covering requirements based upon either a medical/disability reason or a sincerely held religious belief, practice or observance.

Remember the protection from discrimination from above based on vaccination status, well here is more of the policy:

“Unvaccinated employees may use their own sick leave accruals while isolating due to a positive COVID-19 test or diagnosis. Benefits-eligible employees who are fully vaccinated that are unable to telework will be eligible for a total of 80 hours of COVID Recovery Leave per calendar year for their own positive test or diagnosis.”

As for the mandatory testing, employees must do so at their own expense and shall not obtain testing during their work hours. They are also not compensated for the time to be tested.

The Iowa Standard asked the city: the policy states that employees are protected against discrimination and/or retaliation as a result of vaccination status, yet the entire policy seems to be about treating vaccinated employees one way and unvaccinated employees another way.

“Compliance with OSHA Emergency Temporary Standards is mandatory for employers with 100 or more employees. Other employers, including many cities, will have to adopt similar policies by January 10, 2022. Those standards require employers to either mandate the vaccine or enforce face coverings and weekly testing. The City of Urbandale chose the latter so that employees would continue to have the personal choice regarding vaccination. The City’s labor attorney reviewed the COVID-19 Vaccination, Testing and Face Covering policy and deemed it is in compliance with OSHA ETS.

”The City of Urbandale’s policy was created due to mandatory compliance with OSHA ETS. As stated in the policies, discrimination and/or retaliation is prohibited.”

Author: Jacob Hall


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