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New York judge reinstates workers fired over covid vaccine mandate

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A group of sanitation workers who were fired for refusing to comply with New York’s coronavirus The vaccination mandate for government employees should get their jobs back, along with retroactive pay, a New York state judge has ruled.

The city’s requirement that government workers be vaccinated was “arbitrary and capricious,” said Supreme Court Justice Ralph Porzio, a Republican whose jurisdiction includes the conservative stronghold of Staten Island, wrote in an order filed Tuesday. The city appealed the decision; The New York Supreme Court is a trial court and its decisions are subject to review by higher appellate courts.

City workers had to show proof of at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine by November 2021, amid fears winter could accelerate the spread of the virus. The sanitation workers were laid off in February this year. A mandate for public-facing employees of private companies also came into effect in December 2021, but was amended to include exemptions for performers and athletes after heavy criticism.

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Porzio pointed to the exceptions, writing that if the warrants were for “public safety and health, no one would be exempt.” He said that while the health commissioner had the power to issue public health warrants, the commissioner “cannot create new terms and conditions of employment for City employees”, and the health authority Nor can the public service “prohibit an employee from reporting to work” or fire an employee. .

Mayor Eric Adams (D) announced last month that the city was removing tenure for private sector employees effective Nov. 1. He said at the time that the term ending of government employees was “not on the radar for us”. (Porzio wrote in his ruling that the mayor “cannot exempt certain employees from these orders.”)

A spokesperson for the New York City Legal Department said in a statement that the city “strongly disagrees with this decision because the warrant is firmly entrenched in law and is essential to public health. New Yorkers”.

He added that the mandate, which was put in place by then-Mayor Bill de Blasio (D), would remain in place “because this decision relates only to the individual petitioners in this case.” Announcing the term, de Blasio said that with the “privilege” of serving New Yorkers as a public employee “comes the responsibility to keep you and your community safe.”

Adams’ office told local news publication City & State New York last month that 1,761 city employees had been terminated due to breaches of mandate. More than 1,400 of them were laid off in February, when Adams said the workers were “quitting” and not being fired because it was a “decision” not to get vaccinated.

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Porzio said his order was “not a commentary on the effectiveness of vaccination, but on how we treat our first responders.”

“While vaccination should be encouraged, public employees should not have been fired for their noncompliance,” Porzio wrote.

Lee Zeldin, the Republican candidate for governor of New York, said during a Tuesday night debate that anyone fired because of a state requirement that healthcare workers be vaccinated should be “offered their job, with back pay.” He also criticized the “special exemptions for celebrities”, in a reference to the exceptions for athletes, although these were from the city mandate.



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