Longtime Oxnard College staff member, DeDe Jane (not her full name), 68, worked through lockdowns and was labeled an essential worker but soon found herself out of a job because she would not take COVID shots.
“Because I wasn’t ‘vaxxed’ after they put in the mandate, my accommodation for both religious and medical [exemptions] was that I had to be tested twice a week with no symptoms,” Jane told the Guardian. “But if I had been vaccinated with no symptoms, I wouldn’t have to be tested, and that is a civil liberties violation. You can’t do that. I wouldn’t comply. … If you’re not testing the vaxxed group with no symptoms, I’m not getting tested.”
Until her forced retirement, the San Diego State University graduate, who has lived with her husband in Ventura County for nearly 20 years, worked 10-hour shifts Monday through Thursday at the college. She set up and tore down labs and managed budgets in the physical sciences department. She had no plans to retire and agreed to follow the district’s blanket COVID protocols. But when college district leaders voted to segregate some employees based on vaccination status, she challenged their decision.
“Up until that point, they hadn’t violated anybody’s civil rights,” Jane says. “Everybody was going under the same protocols as far as filling out an app, ‘Did you have any symptoms? Were you exposed?’ Your temperature check — all of that. … Then the district made the decision in August, unanimously — five board of trustee members and probably the chancellor would be included in that group — to mandate the vaccine. And they were working within their own authority. They were not under the authority of the state, the governor or any local agency to require the mandate.”
Jane decided to go to work without being tested. Arriving at the campus before the COVID checkpoint was set up, she went to her prep room and worked until around 10 a.m., then went to grab something from her car — and then her world changed.
Coming back in through the COVID checkpoint, a student worker handed her a paper, and she was told to leave the campus immediately. Jane defied the order and kept walking toward her workplace, and the girl yelled after her. An unidentifiable masked man standing nearby defended the student, saying she was just trying to do her job.
“I turned around, came back and looked at him and said, ‘And I’m just doing my job,”’ Jane recalls. She proceeded to her room and, within ten minutes, heard one of her doors being unlocked. Three masked men entered her room, two of them Oxnard College police. Fearing what would happen if she resisted in the presence of no other witnesses, she wrote down their names and allowed them to escort her off-campus.
“[They said,] ‘You can’t be on campus; you’re not vaccinated, and you’re not tested,’ and they physically escorted me off,” Jane says. “Think about it. I’m all by myself; I’m 68 years old. Three men come in unannounced, unlock my prep room, and I have no witnesses. I said, what were my options?”
“I’m all by myself; I’m 68 years old. Three men come in unannounced, unlock my prep room, and I have no witnesses.”
In the following days, she went on leave and updated her report with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which sent a charge of discrimination to the college district. Jane was assigned an investigator and was told by the EEOC that there are many other such filings against VCCCD.
The situation rattled her.
“From an emotional point of view, it’s been an emotional roller coaster,” she says of her new reality. “Some days I’d be fine, everything’s good, but there was so much I needed to do after they walked off campus because it’s like, I didn’t do anything wrong. So that spins around in your head for a while. Nobody gives you a handbook on what to do next. I had to do my research. … I really believe in the Lord, and I know his hand is on me, so I’m not worried about my future.”
She says that the district did not contact her after the incident and proved of little help throughout the process. When she did talk with the vice-chancellor, the woman dismissed Jane’s story by saying that others complain, but they comply. Jane then received a letter threatening to terminate her employment, and she filed for retirement on February 18 to preserve her medical benefits.
“They think they’re off the hook,” she says, mentioning that the vice-chancellor wished her a happy retirement. “But they forced me to retire, so no, technically I wasn’t terminated, but the legal term is, ‘constructed termination.’ And that’s exactly what I’m going to say. … The only way these people are going to stop is they’re going to have to be sued.”
If there is an upside to her situation, it’s that Jane has more time for hiking, biking and caring for the couple’s two adopted chihuahuas. She also co-teaches a biblical citizenship class and is happy to stand with other Americans who have lost jobs upon resisting COVID mandates and forced COVID medical procedures.
“Patriots have risen up and said, ’No, you can’t do this. We stand for this,’” she says. “I think this nation — we’re going to take it back, and we’re going to take it back from the ground up. I’m happy to be part of that. I’m happy to be able to say to somebody who’s lost their job for the same reason — I’m happy to stand in that group. Was it pleasant? Was it nice? No, but I would never go back and change it. … I have no regrets. … I never planned on retiring, but now I know deep in my heart,” she pauses, choking back tears.
“Something better is to come,” she concludes.
The Conejo Guardian sought comment from the college district, and the college district would not respond.