New York City Keeping Public Worker COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate in Place After Ruling

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
October 25, 2022Vaccines

New York City is keeping its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for public workers in place after a judge ruled it was unconstitutional.

The city is also appealing the ruling, which ordered the reinstatement of workers who sued the city after they were terminated.

“The city strongly disagrees with this ruling as the mandate is firmly grounded in law and is critical to New Yorkers’ public health. We have already filed an appeal,” a spokesperson for the city’s Law Department told The Epoch Times in an email.

“In the meantime, the mandate remains in place as this ruling pertains solely to the individual petitioners in this case. We continue to review the court’s decision, which conflicts with numerous other rulings already upholding the mandate,” the spokesperson added.

In a notice of appeal, filed on Oct. 25 with the New York Supreme Court’s Appellate Division, city lawyers suggested Supreme Court Judge Ralph Porzio erred in his ruling by pointing out that “multiple courts” have held that the vaccine mandate is “entirely lawful and rational.”

Porzio on Monday found that the mandate was unconstitutional in part because the city carved out exceptions for certain people, including artists, and because the city is preparing to rescind its private employer mandate.

“Granting exemptions for certain classes and selectively lifting of vaccination orders vaccination orders, while maintaining others, is simply the definition of disparate treatment,” Porzio said.

The 16 former workers who sued all worked for the New York City Department of Sanitation.

They were terminated even though their union contracts did not require being vaccinated against COVID-19.

Porzio determined the group must be reinstated and are entitled to back pay.

Porzio also declared the mandate itself was “arbitrary and capricious,” or against state law.

The city spokesperson declined to address that part of that ruling.

Mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat, did not touch on the ruling during appearances at events on Tuesday.

Chad LaVeglia, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs, had said that the ruling meant that all city employees who were fired must be reinstated.

The mandate “is null and void essentially,” he said in a video statement.

LaVeglia did not respond to a request for comment.

Harry Nespoli, president of the Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association, told The Epoch Times that the ruling will help other lawsuits that terminated workers have filed.

Nespoli is among the union leaders who have been pressuring the city to life the public mandate.

“I think it’s time that this city becomes whole again and they start bringing back these people back to work,” he said.

Other Mandates

New York City’s Board of Health, meanwhile, voted Tuesday to rescind the private employee and school activity mandates.

The unanimous votes mean the mandates will expire on Nov. 1.

Adams in September announced the mandates would end soon.

Asked why the public mandate was being kept in place, the mayor said at the time that “I don’t think anything dealing with COVID makes sense and there’s no logical pathway of [what] one can do.”

Board members said they voted the way they did in part because of how many New Yorkers have been vaccinated.

“Clearly, this is the right time to pull back but I did want to make the comment that I think these requirements in the moment they were initially issued made a huge difference in pushing forward vaccination rates, from which we are all benefiting today,” Dr. Joel Forman, a pediatrics professor at Mount Sinai Icahn School of Medicine, said before the vote. “And I’m grateful that the department made those changes then and has put us in a much better place.”

From The Epoch Times

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