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Judge Ends New York's Vaccine Mandate For City Workers

Court Finds the Mayor's Vaccine Mandates 'Arbitrary and Capricious'

A Richmond County Supreme Court judge has struck down New York City’s mandate requiring municipal workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

More than a dozen city workers who were terminated for declining vaccination filed a lawsuit in July.

Judge Ralph J. Porzio ruled that though the city health commissioner has the authority to issue public health mandates, the commissioner cannot prohibit an employee from working.

“The Health Commissioner cannot terminate employees. The Mayor cannot exempt certain employees from these orders,” Judge Porzio wrote in his opinion. “Executive Order No. 62 renders all of these vaccine mandates arbitrary and capricious.”

Judge Porzio noted that the COVID-19 vaccine does not prevent transmission and that employees should not be terminated for declining to receive the shot.

He also declared “all of these vaccine mandates arbitrary and capricious” and wrote that vaccine mandates are not purely about protecting health.

“The vaccination mandate for City employees was not just about safety and public health; it was about compliance. If it was about safety and public health, unvaccinated workers would have been placed on leave the moment the order was issued,” he explained. “In a city with a nearly 80 percent vaccination rate, we shouldn’t be penalizing the people who showed up to work, at great risk to themselves and their families, while we were locked down.”

Attorneys for the defendants — the City of New York, city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, NYC Department of Sanitation, and the city’s health commissioner — immediately appealed the decision.

Legal counsel who filed the suit on behalf of the municipal workers praised the court’s decision.

“What just happened was the judge found that the city’s vaccine mandate is unconstitutional, violates separation of powers, found it to be arbitrary and capricious,” attorney Chad Laveglia said in an interview. “It’s null and void, essentially.”

In total, New York City fired more than 2,000 individuals for being unvaccinated.

Laveglia reiterated that per Judge Porzio’s order, the vaccine mandate is terminated not just for sanitation workers, but for all city employees, including workers in the fire department, police department and corrections department.

“For all the brave men and women who have been our first responders and have been brave through all this are now free and you should be able to go back to work,” he added.

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