A New York state Supreme Court has ordered that all New York City employees who were fired for refusing a Covid vaccine be reinstated with back pay. The city fired roughly 1,700 employees for being unvaccinated earlier this year after the city adopted a vaccine mandate under former Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The ruling stems from a case brought by 16 employees at the Department of Sanitation who were fired for failing to comply with the mandate. The court ruled that the city owes the workers back pay from the time they were fired.
Judge Ralph Porzio wrote in his ruling that while the city’s health commissioner has the authority to issue public health mandates, he “cannot create a new condition of employment” or “terminate employees.”
The court found that “being vaccinated does not prevent an individual from contracting or transmitting COVID-19.” Judge Porzio went on:
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.
Judge Porzio further questioned how a vaccine mandate for public employees could possibly be justified when the mandate for private-sector employees has already been lifted.
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 … 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 city has stated that it is appealing the order. But the ruling is a major blow to the public health regime, as the judiciary slowly begins to unravel the veil of pseudoscience that’s characterized the entire response to Covid-19.
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