The New York Supreme Court says employees who were terminated for failing to get the COVID-19 vaccine should be reinstated and given back pay.
The court cited evidence that the shots do not thwart transmission within the workplace.
“Being vaccinated does not prevent an individual from contracting or transmitting COVID-19,” the Monday decision by Judge Ralph J. Porzio said.
New York City fired around 1,400 workers, including many cops and firefighters, for being unvaccinated after former Mayor Bill de Blasio instituted a mandate for city workers, according to a Fox News tally.
Judge Porzio said former Health Commissioner David Chokshi overstepped his authority with “arbitrary and capricious” orders that effectively said who could report to work and who cannot. However, the judge said his decision “is not a commentary on the efficacy of vaccination.”
Mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat, has dropped many COVID-19 rules but stood by the mandate on city workers.
His stance angered some unions for first responders, who pointed to a mandate carveout for professional athletes who compete in the city.
“There is nothing in the record to support the rationality of keeping a vaccination mandate for public employees, while vacating the mandate for private sector employees or creating a carveout for certain professions, like athletes, artists, and performers,” Judge Porzio wrote.
“This is clearly an arbitrary and capricious action because we are dealing with identical unvaccinated people being treated differently by the same administrative agency.”
The court said the employees could return to work on Oct. 25, noting that the city’s health commissioner and the mayor had acted beyond their authority.
“In a City with a nearly 80% vaccination rate, we shouldn’t be penalizing the people who showed up to work, at great risk to themselves and their families, while we were locked down,” the 13-page opinion read.
The ruling applied to sanitation workers who had sued after refusing to be vaccinated.
Mr. Adams announced plans to lift the mandate for private-sector workers next month while keeping the mandate in place for public-sector employees.
The mandate was issued for public employees in October 2021, and private-sector workers were included when the omicron-variant wave hit.
City officials said they have filed an appeal to the decision and believe the mandate is “grounded in law.”
For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.
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