Anti-vax influence campaign brought legal threats to Rock County, report says

    Image by Wilfried Pohnke from Pixabay

    A New York law firm closely tied to the anti-vaccine movement has been involved in numerous complaints against vaccine requirements across the country — including efforts by Rock County officials to mandate vaccines for employees of a nursing home facing an outbreak of COVID-19, according to a Washington Post report

    Nonprofits and advocacy organizations that spread conspiracy theories about vaccines and campaign against vaccine requirements have advertised the legal services of Siri & Glimstad, which sent warning letters to officials in Rock County in February, according to the Post

    The effort in Rock County was one of the firm’s first attempts at pushing against vaccine requirements. After two people died and 15 people were infected at the Rock Haven nursing home in Janesville, county officials moved to require vaccines. A memo sent before Christmas stated that employees not complying with the requirement would be laid off until they were vaccinated, the Post reports. 

    Multiple letters from Siri & Glimstad, as well as MJA Law, a Fitchburg-based law firm, were sent to Rock County officials after the decision to require vaccines. 

    On Feb. 2, Siri & Glimstad wrote that failure to rescind the policy would result in legal action. 

    “Govern yourself accordingly,” the Feb. 2 letter stated.

    The firm said that employees of the nursing home have a statutorily guaranteed right to decide for themselves whether or not to take the vaccine. 

    A local attorney, Michael Anderson, also represented several of the affected employees, and wrote that the policy may be “well intentioned” but violates employees’ constitutional rights. Anderson told the Post that he had discussed working with the New York firm, but wasn’t sure if they would be involved in any legal action. 

    Anderson has since filed a claim to get 11 of the employees lost wages and benefits, according to the Post. Earlier this month a county committee voted to roll back the policy. The full Rock County board will take up the issue later this week.

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    Henry Redman
    Henry Redman is a staff reporter for the Wisconsin Examiner who focuses on covering Wisconsin's towns and rural areas. He previously covered crime and courts at the Daily Jefferson County Union. A lifelong Midwesterner, he was born in Cleveland, Ohio and graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a degree in journalism in May 2019.