By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — It’s been nearly a month since John Knox last worked a shift for the Los Angeles Fire Department

“I’d be lying if I said it was easy,” said Knox, a 21-year veteran firefighter paramedic. “It’s not.”

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Knox, along with more than 100 Los Angeles city firefighters have been suspended without pay for refusing to comply with L.A.’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. 

“Over the past 22 months, without that shot, we’ve been here helping the public,” said Knox. “There has never been an issue until the city put this mandate out. Until the city turned us from heroes to criminals. We continued to come out and serve the public.”

Knox and the rest of the “Firefighters For Freedom”  have filed a lawsuit challenging the city and its vaccine mandate. Their day in court is next Monday when a state judge is set to hear the case.

LOS ANGELES, CALIF. – NOV. 8, 2021. Hundreds of people opposed to vaccination madates protest at Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles on Monday, Nov. 8, 2021. Firefighters 4 Freedom hosted the “March for Freedom” rally in support of workers affected by the vaccine mandates in Los Angeles. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

“If it wants to terminate them, put them through the proper process,” said attorney Scott Street, who represents the suspended firefighters.

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Street argues that since firefighters are public employees they are guaranteed a hearing before they can be fired. According to Street, it is required to issue a notice and allow the firefighters to challenge their termination before an impartial hearing officer. 

In a separate case filed by the union representing LA city firefighters, a judge denied their request to block enforcement of the mandate. However, Loyola Law Professor Jessica Levinson believes the Firefighters For Freedom case is different.

“In the short term, the judge is going to evaluate whether firefighters have in fact been denied due process,” she said. 

Levinson believes that the firefighters have been given notice about their hearings and believes their primary complaint regarding the time between the hearings, may not convince a judge they have been deprived of due process. 

According to Levinson, the city can institute a vaccine mandate long as they follow the proper procedures.

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“It’s no one’s position to tell me what I can or can’t do with my body,” said Knox. “It’s not the government’s job to dictate my healthcare.”