A federal judge ordered Monday that Department of Sanitation employees terminated for refusing to get vaccinated be reinstated to their full employment status, writing that the vaccination mandate for city employees was “not just about safety and public health; it was about compliance.”
Judge Ralph J. Porzio wrote in his ruling that if the vaccine mandate was about “safety and public health, unvaccinated workers would have been placed on leave the moment the order was issued.”
“If it was about safety and public health, the Health Commissioner would have issued city-wide mandates for vaccination for all residents,” he continued. “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.”
Porzio’s ruling states that the October 20, 2021 and December 13, 2021 rulings from the Commissioner of Health and Mental Hygiene ordering that all employees get vaccinated are “arbitrary and capricious,” ordering that the petitioners be reinstated to their full employment status, and entitled to back pay in salary from date of termination.
The plaintiffs’ attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Daily Signal. According to the court filing, the Department of Sanitation employees were terminated in February 2022 for “failure to comply with vaccination requirements” after the health commissioner of the City of New York, David Chokshi, issued a vaccination mandate requiring all city employees to show “proof of at least one dose of vaccination against COVID-19” by October 29.
“On March 24, 2022, Mayor Adams enacted Executive Order No. 62, which provided blanket exemptions from the private employers’ vaccine mandate for athletes, performers, and other artists,” the ruling said. The judge highlighted the petitioners’ central argument that Adams’ order “rendered the public employee vaccination mandate arbitrary and capricious or unconstitutional.”
“Furthermore,” the judge wrote, “the Petitioners all claim, and provided laboratory documentation, that they have natural immunity to COVID-19 from prior infection(s). Respondents’ central argument is that the private employers’ exemption order and the public employee vaccination mandates were ‘created separately, and exist independently, of each other.”
This is a breaking news story and will be updated with any comment from the plaintiff’s attorney or the city’s legal department.
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