Reinstatement and back pay ordered for fired unvaccinated workers: Is NY court right?

Mike Segar / Reuters

Fact Box

  • On October 25, 2022, New York Supreme Court Judge Ralph J. Porzio ordered that the city rehire and issue “back pay in salary from the date of termination” to sanitation employees who were fired for refusing vaccination, which the court recognized “does not prevent an individual from contracting or transmitting Covid-19.” The court deemed the vaccine mandate to be “capricious and unconstitutional,” concluding, “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.”
  • The ruling reinstated fired unvaccinated employees and ordered back pay for lost expenses; New York City had initially fired 1,400 employees under the previous ruling. 
  • Twenty states banned proof-of-vaccination requirements and another 20 prohibited them through executive actions; however, nine states, including New York, passed orders exempting vaccinated individuals from certain restrictions with proof of vaccination.
  • As of October 21, 2022, 79.4% of the population of New York have been fully vaccinated while 92.9% have at least one dose.

Stephanie (No)

New York's Supreme Court ruling has made it so the state must reinstate and pay retroactive wages to any employee who was fired for choosing not to get vaccinated during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, although the courts have cited a violation of workers' rights, the ruling itself is not right and will most likely produce negative side effects. 

The state of NY and private businesses instated vaccine mandates to keep their workers and the public healthy and avoid overcrowding in hospitals. Therefore, companies are within their right to dismiss employees for failing to conform to rules and regulations. Employees are often dismissed for failing to participate in health and safety rules and regulations. After losing pay for not conforming to safety regulations, an employee should not be rewarded later on for failing to keep themselves and others safe. 

While the state has decided to rule in this way, this decision communicates to other workers that not following the rules will not result in permanent consequences. This is likely to result in employees in essential healthcare positions like nurses, firefighters, and paramedics refusing to stay up to date on vaccines, thus putting the public at risk of contracting preventable illnesses and diseases. 

Although Republican Judge Porzio has made the decision to disregard the state's vaccine mandates, citing that vaccines do not stop a person from contracting or spreading COVID-19, the judge's personal beliefs on vaccines are not necessarily compatible with the truth. Experts tend to disagree with the judge. The mayo clinic cites that the vaccine is effective at stopping the spread and avoiding more serious conditions of the disease. So removing those from public workers who refused the vaccine was most likely a benefit to public health. 

Curtice (Yes)

Appealing to common sense and constitutionality, a federal judge correctly ruled that some New York City employees who were terminated for refusing the experimental, arguably harmful, not-at-all-effective COVID-19 vaccines must be reinstated and given back payment. As Judge Porzio stated, New York City's vaccination mandate for city employees 'was not just about safety and public health, but about compliance.' This follows a similar ruling by a Manhattan Supreme Court judge regarding a suit filed by New York City police officers.

Many local, state and federal governments used the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to flex their authoritarian tendencies. Everyone has now had the opportunity to get a COVID vaccination should they so desire. But as has been revealed, COVID vaccines do little to prevent a vaccinated person from contracting or transmitting the virus. A Pfizer executive recently admitted that the company never tested its vaccine to see if it prevented transmission. As we have since learned, it does not. In ruling in favor of the city workers, the judge also noted that Mayor Adams issued an executive order that provided exemptions from the citywide mandate for athletes, performers, and other artists. This rendered the public employee vaccine mandate 'arbitrary and capricious.'

City employees also argued they had natural immunity and were, therefore, at least as protected from further infection as were vaccinated individuals. Earlier in the pandemic, health professionals reported natural immunity as an effective means of further infection, which was confirmed in later studies. Yet, as the pandemic continued, natural immunity was pushed to the background as Dr. Fauci and others pushed the vaccine and that alone. The US and its jurisdictions are still subject to the Constitution. It's good to see that reiterated and reinforced in any capacity.

  • chat-ic1
  • like-ic3
  • chart-ic13
  • share-icShare


0 / 1000