On Tuesday, a state judge in New York determined that New York City’s mandate for all municipal workers to get the COVID-19 vaccine or else be fired from their jobs was “arbitrary and capricious.”
According to ABC News, New York Supreme Court Judge Ralph Porzio in Staten Island ordered city officials to reinstate every employee who was fired for refusing to take the vaccine. In his ruling, Porzio cited the fact that Joe Biden recently declared the pandemic to be over, as well as the fact that Governor Kathy Hochul (D-N.Y.) declined to renew the state’s emergency status over the Chinese virus.
“Though vaccination should be encouraged, public employees should not have been terminated for their noncompliance,” Porzio said in his ruling. “It is time for the city of New York to do what is right and what is just.” Porzio declared that the city must rehire every fired employee by Tuesday, and that every employee is entitled to back pay.
Porzio’s ruling said that the mandate and subsequent firings were violations of workers’ due process rights, and also violated the separation of powers. In addition, the judge pointed out the city’s decision in March to carve out special exemptions for celebrities such as athletes, artists, and performers.
“Granting exemptions for certain classes and selectively lifting vaccination orders, while maintaining others, is simply the definition of disparate treatment,” Porzio’s ruling said.
City officials have said that they will appeal the ruling, with a spokesman for the city’s Law Department stating that “the city strongly disagrees with this ruling as the mandate is firmly grounded in law and is critical to New Yorkers’ public health.”
“We continue to review the court’s decision, which conflicts with numerous other rulings already upholding the mandate,” the spokesman added.
The case was first brought by a group of 16 sanitation workers who refused to get the COVID vaccine, and were fired as a result. The workers all claimed to have natural immunity to the virus due to having previously contracted it.