Court Orders New York City To Rehire Unvaxxed Government Employees

City required employees to receive COVID-19 vaccine to stay on payroll

A sign is viewed at a restaurant in New York's Upper West Side on August 17, 2021, the first day where you have to show proof of having a Covid-19 vaccination to participate in indoor dining. - The vaccine mandate also includes indoor gyms, and all indoor entertainment in New York City. (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP) (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)
October 26, 2022

The New York Supreme Court ordered New York City to "do what is right and what is just" by rehiring and providing back pay for fired unvaccinated city employees.

Justice Ralph Porzio wrote in an opinion Tuesday that the city enforced the mandate "selectively" and that "if it was about safety and public health," the order would not include exemptions for certain professions.

The October 2021 mandate issued by then-city health commissioner David Chokshi required city employees to take the COVID-19 vaccine to stay on payroll. He later extended the order to include private-sector employees. In March, Mayor Eric Adams excluded professional athletes and musicians from following the order.

The city is appealing the ruling, saying the decision only applies to the petitioners in the case and that the mandate will remain in place for now.

"The city strongly disagrees with this ruling as the mandate is firmly grounded in law and is critical to New Yorkers' public health," a spokesman for the New York City Law Department said. "We continue to review the court’s decision."

The health commissioner cannot terminate employees and create conditions for employment, the decision says, and the mayor cannot selectively enforce such an erroneous policy.

"If it was about safety and public health, unvaccinated workers would have been placed on leave the moment the order was issued," Porzio wrote.

He added that the order "violated the Petitioner's equal protection rights" because it is "arbitrary and capricious."

Chad LaVeglia, the lawyer for the fired petitioners, told the New York Post that "every city employee who has been terminated because of the mandate could bring civil actions against the city."