In a ruling with significant implications, a New York court on Monday ordered the reinstatement of New York City employees who were terminated for refusing to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
The court also ruled that the defendants were entitled to back pay.
City officials immediately filed an appeal with the state’s appellate division on Tuesday.
The court determined that New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ (D) endorsed vaccine mandate for public employees, while at the same time exempting athletes and performers, was “arbitrary and capricious.”
Last March, the New York Post noted that Adams explained the exemption was necessary, saying the city “has to function.”
“Being healthy is not just about being physically healthy, but being economically healthy,” Adams added.
Linking New York City’s vaccine mandate to unemployment, Adams said: “We’re leading the entire country, for the most part, in unemployment. We’re seeing unbelievable vacancies in our business district.”
Opponents of the vaccine mandate noted that more than 1,400 city employees were fired in New York City. Of these individuals, Adams said that if the mandate was reversed or discontinued “he wasn’t planning on rehiring them,” the Post reported.
Today’s court ruling, if upheld, will force the New York City officials to rehire the employees and provide back pay. The ruling read:
Employees terminated for remaining unvaccinated are “reinstated to their full employment status,” effective Oct. 25 at 6 a.m. Adding that employees are “entitled to back pay in salary from the date of termination” and can submit a “proposed judgment” for back pay on or before Nov. 10.
The court also noted that the city’s health commissioner “cannot create a new condition of employment for city employees,” nor can it “prohibit an employee from reporting to work” and “cannot terminate employees.”
The ruling added:
The vaccination mandate for city employees was not just about safety and public health; it was about compliance. 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 vaccination for all residents.
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.
If it was about safety and public health, no one would be exempt. It is time for the city of New York to do what is right and what is just.
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