NY Supreme Court rules employees who were fired for refusing COVID vaccines must be reinstated with back pay

A New York state Supreme Court acknowledged that being vaccinated against COVID-19 does not stop people from transmitting the virus and ordered that all New York City employees who lost their jobs for not complying with vaccine mandates be reinstated with back pay.

New York City fired around 1700 employees who were found to be in violation of a COVID-19 vaccine mandate that was put in place by former mayor Bill de Blasio. The city’s current mayor, Eric Adams, subsequently said that his administration would not be willing to rehire workers who were fired for not getting the jab. However, a state Supreme Court has ruled in favor of those who lost their jobs, many of whom were firefighters and police officers.

The mandate for city workers was announced by de Blasio in summer of 2021 and went into effect that September. Those who did not comply faced the loss of their jobs. New York City firefighter and police unions opposed the mandate on the grounds that it intruded into their personal health choices.

There have been several similar decisions making headlines lately. Last month, a New York judge said that 10 employees of the New York City Department of Education who were fired over their refusal to get the jab must be reinstated and given back pay. In that case, State Supreme Court Judge Ralph J. Porzio maintained that the city acted unlawfully when it denied employees’ requests for religious accommodations. The employees who sued over the matter included teachers, principals and other educators.

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In his 22-page opinion, Porzio pointed out: “This Court sees no rational basis for not allowing unvaccinated classroom teachers in amongst an admitted population of primarily unvaccinated students.”

The mandate was in effect from October 2021 until February 2023, during which time thousands of teachers and other Department of Education employees were fired because they were not willing to get the vaccine.

In May, it was announced that the New York State Department of Health would be dropping its vaccine requirements for healthcare workers this fall after a legal challenge to the mandates. The New York Post reported that around 30,000 healthcare workers lost their jobs over their refusal to comply with vaccine mandates.

In a statement, the department noted: “Due to the changing landscape of the COVID-19 pandemic and evolving vaccine recommendations, the New York State Department of Health has begun the process of repealing the COVID-19 vaccine requirement for workers at regulated healthcare facilities.”

Too little, too late

For those who were brave enough to question the safety and efficacy of these jabs, there may be some vindication in hearing the New York state Supreme Court proclaim that “being vaccinated does not prevent an individual from contracting or transmitting COVID-19.” However, these moves will not do anything to undo the damage caused to those who reluctantly went along with vaccine mandates because they couldn’t afford to lose their jobs and ended up sustaining vaccine injuries, nor will it bring back those who lost their lives to vaccine side effects.

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Many people who remained steadfast in their unwillingness to get these questionable and rushed vaccines also suffered reputational damage, and many relationships were fractured as those who didn’t get jab were accused of putting others in danger, even though it is now abundantly clear that the vaccine does not prevent the spread of the virus.

While receiving back pay may be a nice gesture for those who were affected, it won’t undo the anguish they suffered over their decision not to comply with the vaccine mandates and their subsequent loss of employment and how it affected their families.

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