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George Mason University Law Professor Challenges Covid-19 Policy

Aug. 4, 2021, 1:52 PM

A George Mason University law professor is challenging in federal court the school’s policy for the upcoming fall semester requiring unvaccinated faculty and staff members to wear masks on campus, physically distance, and undergo frequent Covid-19 testing.

Todd Zywicki says the measures are unjustified for employees like himself who’ve already contracted and recovered from the disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people get vaccinated even if they’ve already recovered from Covid, because health experts don’t yet know how long after recovering someone is protected from getting sick again.

GMU threatened disciplinary action including termination for employees who don’t comply with its policy, according to Zywicki’s complaint filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Because of his previous infection Zywicki, who teaches at GMU’s law school, says “he has acquired robust natural immunity, confirmed unequivocally” by multiple antibody tests. His immunologist advised him it’s medically unnecessary to undergo vaccination, he says.

“Given the antibodies generated by his naturally acquired immunity, the Commonwealth of Virginia cannot claim a compelling governmental interest in overriding Professor Zywicki’s personal autonomy and constitutional rights by forcing him, in essence, to either be vaccinated or to suffer adverse professional consequences,” Zywicki says. He claims the policy burdens his rights to bodily integrity and informed medical choice.

Zywicki also argues the university’s policy is preempted by the federal statute covering the emergency use authorization of the vaccines.

The suit lists the university’s president, board members, and various other school officials as defendants.

Causes of Action: Ninth Amendment, 14th Amendment, supremacy clause.

Relief Requested: Injunction against school’s policy.

Response: GMU didn’t immediately respond to Bloomberg Law’s request for comment.

Attorneys: Hardin Law Office and the New Civil Liberties Alliance represents Zywicki.

The case is Zywicki v. Washington, E.D. Va., No. 1:21-cv-00894, complaint filed 8/3/21.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Flood in Washington at bflood@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Patrick L. Gregory at pgregory@bloomberglaw.com

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