The Boulder City Council is expected to place a measure on the November ballot to hold municipal elections on even-numbered years beginning in 2026. Credit: Anthony Albidrez

Nearly all City of Boulder employees complied with its requirement to show proof of a Covid-19 vaccination or request a religious or medical exception by Dec. 8, according to city officials. 

Eleven employees, all in the Parks and Recreation and Open Space and Mountain Parks departments (including full-time and seasonal workers), have not complied with the vaccination policy, a city spokesperson told the Boulder Reporting Lab on Thursday. 

According to the city, the employees will receive a warning letter and may be fired if they don’t come into compliance. 

The city employs about 1,400 full-time workers. The vaccination requirement, which was signed by City Manager Nuria Rivera-Vandermyde on Oct. 19, applies to all employees working on-site or off-site, including all independent contract employees who perform work in a city facility, according to the policy. 

About 95.43% of employees submitted proof of vaccination and 3.88% of employees requested medical or religious accommodation, Julie Causa, a city spokesperson, told the Boulder Reporting lab in an email. 

That compares to the county’s vaccination rate of 71%, according to the county health department. 

The policy does not define what is required of unvaccinated employees, beyond the possibility of undergoing regular testing or being required to wear a mask.

New employees must show proof of full vaccination within the first five days of employment or submit an exemption request before their first day of employment, according to the policy. 

The city describes its policy as a “mandate” intended to “to protect its employees and the community.” But in addition to its exemptions, it does not define specific disciplinary actions for failure to comply. 

“It is not our intention for anyone to lose their job at the city — we very much hope all our employees stay with the organization and continue to provide the great service they always do,” Causa wrote in an email. “The goal of the vaccination mandate is to ensure that all employees are vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus and its variants for their safety and that of their family and the community.” 

So far, no requests for religious and medical accommodations have been denied by the city, Causa said. Religious exemptions stem from Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employers from discriminating based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. 

The policy states city employees can use paid sick leave for their time receiving and recovering from the side effects of the vaccine. The city also offered employees a $250 incentive to come into compliance by the Dec. 8 deadline. Causa said the incentive was paid for using wellness benefits offered by Cigna, the city employee’s insurer.

She said the city has not collected data on how many employees resigned over the mandate and hasn’t noticed an uptick in resignations since the policy was announced in October. She said the city is anecdotally aware of one employee who quit because of the policy. 

The police department, which has the most full-time employees of any city department, also has the most unvaccinated workers. According to city data, 12 employees in the department are exempted from the mandate due to medical or religious reasons.

John Herrick

John Herrick reports on housing, climate, health and local government for Boulder Reporting Lab. He previously covered the state Capitol for The Colorado Independent and environmental policy for VTDigger.org. He is interested in stories about people, power and fairness.