The Justice Department can no longer remove employees from their jobs without giving them the chance to try to prove that they didn’t receive vaccines, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., ruled on Thursday.
The policy, which reportedly dates back to Barack Obama’s administration, had been in place at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, though only an “extremely small number” of employees were identified as needing the exemption. According to The Washington Post, more than 500 other employees were “concerned about” the ban.
On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman ruled in a lawsuit that the policy was an unconstitutional violation of the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial, according to the Post.
What was “unconstitutional” is unclear, though Friedman said the government’s policy was invalid “because of the arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable decision [of the] administration to enforce the policy and avoid a proper process for making such decisions,” according to the Post.
“If more than that number of people were concerned about this policy, and the administration cannot explain why, then the court’s decision would be surprising and unfair,” Friedman wrote.
The injunction gives the attorney general 120 days to change its policies, give vaccine exemptions to those employees who want them and appoint a panel to consider its shortcomings.
It also allows those employees to try to get the policy changed before then.