SAN DIEGO — A lawsuit was filed Friday against the City of San Diego over its COVID vaccination mandate for first responders and city employees.

A large group gathered outside Fire Station No. 35 in La Jolla in support of the legal action.

“This is a human rights issue – make no mistake about that,” said Amy Bohn, president of Protection of the Educational Rights of Kids, the group that filed the lawsuit.

Bohn says the lawsuit is on behalf of hundreds of San Diego police officers, firefighters and city employees who could lose their jobs if they don’t comply with the mandate.

“They’re getting harassed, they’re getting intimidated, they’re being bullied. Some people are being separated from their lunchrooms, their colleagues – depending on the status of their shots. They can’t serve the community. This is what’s happening in your backyard,” said Bohn.

First responders themselves also spoke at the news conference in support of the lawsuit and warning the mandate puts community safety at-risk, with many of their colleagues retiring, resigning or getting jobs in other cities with no vaccine mandates.

“But now, they’re being told, ‘you’re going to lose your job unless you succumb to the pressure or you are fired,’ and that’s sad. This is a problem and it’s only going to become greater when a lot more of us leave,” said Capt. Justus Norgord with San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.

Two-hundred pairs of boots were set out on the lawn in front of the fire station, each pair representing three city police officers and firefighters who are in danger of losing their jobs if they do not get the vaccine.

“If we continue down this road, I, we, will be fired. Officers will continue to leave this department, leaving the citizens. It should scare you – because as a citizen, it scares me,” said Officer Jonathan Wiese of San Diego Police Department.

The City of San Diego announced the vaccine mandate last August.

FOX 5 reached out to the city for comment about the lawsuit, but has not received a response.