Judge rules NYC vaccine mandate ‘arbitrary and capricious’


A New York Supreme Court judge Tuesday ruled in favor of 16 terminated New York City public employees in holding that the “vaccination mandate for City employees was not just about safety and public health; it was about compliance.”

The fired employees in July sued the city, along with public health and safety officials, over a 2021 order requiring that all public workers be vaccinated against COVID-19 or lose their jobs.

Writing that “being vaccinated does not prevent an individual from contracting or transmitting COVID-19,” the judge ordered that the fired workers be reinstated and receive back pay. The case is George Garvey, et. al. v. The City of New York, et. al.

According to media reports, 2,000 city workers were fired for refusing to be vaccinated. All but one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit requested exemptions and were given “generalized and vague denials,” according to the ruling.

The judge also ruled against New York Mayor Eric Adams’s executive order allowing exemptions for private employees such as performers and athletes — who were required to get vaccinated in a separate 2021 order by the health commissioner. The ruling stated that the mayor “made a different decision for similarly situated people based on identical facts.”

The record failed to “support the rationality of keeping a vaccination mandate for public employees, while vacating the mandate for private sector employees or creating a carveout for certain professions, like athletes, artists, and performers,” the ruling said.

“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 ruling said.

 

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