The New York State supreme court has ordered New York City to rehire and pay back wages to government employees who were fired for refusing to get vaccinated against Covid-19.
David Chokshi, the city’s health commissioner, issued an order in October 2021 requiring all city employees to be inoculated against the virus. Later, Chokshi issued a similar order for private-sector employees; Mayor Eric Adams signed a supplementary executive order to that latter mandate carving out exemptions for athletes, musicians, and other performers.
The court deemed both Chokshi’s and Adams’s orders “arbitrary and capricious,” while also finding that Chokshi’s violated the New York State constitution.
“The Health Commissioner cannot create a new condition of employment for city employees, . . . cannot prohibit an employee from reporting to work . . . [and] cannot terminate employees. The Mayor cannot exempt certain employees from these orders,” reads the opinion, which was authored by Judge Ralph J. Porzio. Porzio noted that vaccination against Covid-19 does not prevent transmission of the disease, but noted that the decision “is not a commentary on the efficacy of vaccination.”
“If it was about safety and public health, no one would be exempt. It is time for the City of New York to do what is right and what is just,” concluded Porzio.
The city has already filed an appeal according to a spokesman for the law department, who said that “the city strongly disagrees with this ruling as the mandate is firmly grounded in law and is critical to New Yorkers’ public health.”