After firing more than 1,750 city workers, including police officers and hundreds of teachers, for refusing to get vaccinated, New York City has been ordered to not only reinstate more than 1,000 employees but to give them back pay for the time they were not working.
Staten Island Supreme Court Justice Ralph Porzio ruled that the city’s vaccine mandate was enacted illegally last year and “violates the separation of powers doctrine” enshrined in the state constitution, the New York Post reported.
The judge said then-NYC Health Commissioner David Chokshi violated the employees’ “substantive and procedural due process rights” and didn’t have “the power and authority to permanently exclude [them] from their workplace,” according to the newspaper. In effect, Porzio said he could not change the terms of employment the workers were hired under.
“It is time for the City of New York to do what is right and what is just,” Porzio wrote in his decision.
“The vaccination mandate for City employees was not just about safety and public health; it was about compliance,” he further stated. “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.”
Interestingly, vaccine mandates came up during the New York gubernatorial debate on Tuesday, and Kathy Hochul, the unelected Democratic governor of New York, stood her ground on forcing COVID jabs saying, “I would do it all over again.”
Kathy Hochul on firing unvaccinated healthcare workers: “I would do it all over again” pic.twitter.com/kFoCpnXqEO
— End Wokeness (@EndWokeness) October 26, 2022
Sixteen fired Sanitation Department employees, who “all claim, and provided laboratory documentation, that they have natural immunity to Covid-19 from prior infection(s),” according to Porzio, sued the city after refusing the COVID vaccine, and Tuesday’s ruling only applies to them.
However, Chad LaVeglia, the lawyer representing the sanitation workers, told the Post that “every city employee who has been terminated because of the mandate could bring civil actions against the city.”
“Litigation involving the other city employees would cost the city at least hundreds of millions — in taxpayer funds of course,” LaVeglia added.
A New York City Law Department spokesperson said that the city will appeal the ruling.
“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 said, according to The Hill.
“We have already filed an appeal,” they continued. “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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