Lawsuit against Artis-Naples firing three unvaccinated musicians

Reporter: Lauren Leslie Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:
Three musicians were fired by Artis-Naples for not getting the Covid-19 vaccine. (CREDIT: WINK News)

Three musicians who used to be in the Naples Philharmonic were fired for not getting the COVID-19 vaccine and are now suing Artis-Naples in federal court.

Florida state law is on the musicians’ side, as Gov. DeSantis preached against vaccine mandates throughout the pandemic. DeSantis even provided workers with religious exemptions from such mandates, which is exactly what the lawsuit is about.

Ashley Leigh, Erik Berg and James Griffith are the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Artis-Naples.

Outside of the Artis-Naples. (CREDIT: WINK News)

Harry Mihet is the vice president of legal affairs with Liberty Counsel and spoke with WINK News about the lawsuit.

“They are trying to see if they can get away with brazenly violating the law we hope that the court is not going to allow that,” Mihet said.

Leigh, Berg, and Griffith, whose jobs were protected by law, all asked for religious exemption in an attempt to keep from getting the vaccine.

“It’s very clear that a private employer that imposes a vaccination mandate must, not may, not should but must automatically exempt anyone who requests a religious exemption,” Mihet said.

Although, the Artis-Naples isn’t exempt from the law, and in May Liberty Counsel sent a demand letter.

“I think was over 12 pages long where we explained the law, we told them what happened to the last violator, that we went after a hospital in North Shore [which] ended up paying $10.3 million in a class action settlement for doing exactly the same thing, and in that state, there wasn’t even a state law like we have in Florida,” Mihet said.

WINK News asked Mihet to give a definitive example of what a clear violation of the state law would be.

“I think that there are certain individuals at the leadership of Artis-Naples who have decided, as a matter of personal preference, that they are not going to comply with the law and Artis-Naples has a sufficient endowment to pay whatever consequences are imposed,” Mihet responded.

Liberty Counsel additionally filed an injunction Wednesday afternoon asking the court to stop Artis-Naples from trying to fill the jobs.

WINK News did reach out to the attorney representing Artis-Naples about the lawsuit but has not heard back as of Wednesday evening.

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