Unvaccinated Newburgh Heights employees could start facing termination this week

Coronavirus

NEWBURGH HEIGHTS, Ohio (WJW)- Starting Thursday, Newburgh Heights employees who are not vaccinated can be terminated.

The village was among the first to announce the policy in May, long before mandates were in place at some of Northeast Ohio’s largest hospitals due to COVID-19.

Under the policy originally issued by Mayor Trevor Elkins, employees faced a written warning in July, followed by a two-day suspension in August and termination on Sept. 30.

“We’ve only had two employees that have been disciplined,” said Elkins. “We waited quite a while to give them a window to contemplate, research… and tomorrow, if those individuals have not become vaccinated, they will receive termination notices.”

He said two additional employees were granted accommodations.

When the policy was announced, both the fire and police chief expressed concern publicly during village council meetings about how it could lead to staffing shortages that could impact public safety.

“We transitioned from a part-time fire department to full-time fire department. Part of the reasoning for that is some of the firemen were not willing to get vaccinated,” Elkins said. “We believe so strongly in ensuring the safety of both our residents and employees, we had to make that move. We just couldn’t take the risk with people’s safety and health.”

Elkins said more than 95 percent of the village staff is vaccinated.

A $500 vaccination incentive was also offered to help boost vaccination rates. Elkins said it will cost a total of $40,000.

“It’s gratifying to watch others take this as seriously as we have from the beginning,” he said. “This is really not one of those things you want to be right about. So, we’ve just tried to do the right thing… that’s what we feel like we’ve done.”

FOX 8 reached out to the village police chief for additional comment, but did not receive a response.

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