Judge tosses NYC COVID vaccine mandate, orders fired city workers’ back pay

New York City’s controversial COVID-19 vaccine mandate for municipal staff was enacted illegally and all employees who were fired for refusing to comply have to be instantly reinstated with again pay, a state decide has dominated.

“It is time for the City of New York to do what is right and what is just,” Staten Island Supreme Court Justice Ralph Porzio wrote in a choice made public Tuesday.

More than 1,750 metropolis staff had been fired for refusing to get vaccinated, together with 36 members of the NYPD and greater than 950 Department of Education employees.

In his 13-page ruling, Porzio mentioned then-city Health Commissioner David Chokshi’s Oct. 20, 2021, order “violates the separation of powers doctrine” enshrined within the state structure.

Chokshi additionally violated the employees’ “substantive and procedural due process rights” and didn’t have “the power and authority to permanently exclude [them] from their workplace,” Porzio mentioned.

Staten Island Supreme Court Justice Ralph Porzio tossed New York City’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for municipal staff and reinstated beforehand fired staff.
Sipa USA through AP

And Chokshi’s order, one other that prolonged the mandate to personal employers and a associated govt order issued by Mayor Eric Adams had been “arbitrary and capricious” in violation of state regulation, the decide mentioned. Adams’ March 24 govt order exempted athletes and performing artists from the vaccine mandate.

“The vaccination mandate for City employees was not just about safety and public health; it was about compliance,” Porzio wrote.

“If it 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 all residents.”

Porzio additionally famous the Big Apple’s “nearly 80% vaccination rate” earlier than saying that “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.”

His ruling got here in response to a go well with filed earlier this 12 months by 16 former Sanitation Department staff who had been fired in February for refusing to get vaccinated.

They “all claim, and provided laboratory documentation, that they have natural immunity to Covid-19 from prior infection(s),” he wrote.

Porzio mentioned expertise from the pandemic has proven that the protections offered by vaccinations are “not absolute,” with breakthrough infections occurring “even for those who have been vaccinated and boosted.”

Porzio wrote in the ruling that then-city Health Commissioner David Chokshi's order was against the state constitution.
Porzio wrote within the ruling that then-city Health Commissioner David Chokshi’s order was in opposition to the state structure.

Porzio claimed the vaccine mandate was about "compliance" instead of public health or safety.
Porzio claimed the vaccine mandate was about “compliance” as a substitute of public well being or security.

All fired city employees will receive back pay from their date of termination.
All fired metropolis staff will obtain again pay from their date of termination.

But he added that his ruling “is not a commentary on the efficacy of vaccination, but about how we are treating our first responders, the ones who worked day-to-day through the height of the pandemic.”

“They worked without protective gear. They were infected with Covid-19, creating natural immunity,” he wrote.

“They continued working full duty while their exemption requests were pending. They were terminated and are willing to come back to work for the City that cast them aside.”

In his resolution, Porzio additionally cited President Biden’s recent assertion that the pandemic was “over” and Gov. Kathy Hochul’s Sept. 12 announcement that she wouldn’t extend New York’s pandemic-related state of emergency.

Under phrases of the ruling, dated Monday, the fired staff had been to be “reinstated to their full employment status” as of 6 a.m. Tuesday.

They’re additionally “entitled to back pay in salary from the date of termination,” with the plaintiffs within the case to submit a proposed judgment on that situation by Nov. 10.

A spokesperson for town Law Department mentioned it was looking for to have Porzio’s resolution reversed.

“The city strongly disagrees with this ruling as the mandate is firmly grounded in law and is critical to New Yorkers’ public health,” the spokesperson mentioned.

“We have already filed an appeal. 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.”

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