Judge orders NYC to rehire group of workers fired for refusing COVID-19 vaccines and give them back pay

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Anti-vaccine protesters
Anti-vaccine protesters gather in front of Parliament building during a demonstration in Albany, New York City, on January 5, 2022.

  • New York City ordered a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all city workers last year.
  • A judge said Tuesday that a group of workers fired for refusing a vaccine must be rehired and paid.
  • The city has appealed the decision, saying the vaccine is “critical to New Yorkers’ public health.”

A New York Supreme Court judge said a group of New York City workers who were fired for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine last year must be rehired and given back pay for their time away.

In a decision made public on Tuesday, Judge Ralph Porzio wrote that “though vaccination should be encouraged, public employees should not have been terminated for their noncompliance.”

“It is time for the city of New York to do what is right and what is just,” siad Porzi, a Republican.

The city has already appealed the decision, The Washington Post reported, which could see it overturned.

A spokesperson for the New York City Law Department told The Post that the city “strongly disagrees with this ruling as the mandate is firmly grounded in law and is critical to New Yorkers’ public health.”

The New York City Law Department did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. 

The ruling came in a case brought by a group of city sanitation workers who were terminated in February this year over their refusal to get vaccinated.

The group of 16 workers claimed they had natural immunity because of prior infections, The New York Post reported.

Porzi said Tuesday his order was “not a commentary on the efficacy of vaccination, but about how we are treating our first responders.” He also cited President Joe Biden’s recent assertion that the pandemic was “over.”

New York City ordered a vaccine mandate for all of its city workers last year.

Mayor Eric Adams announced last month that he would be dropping a vaccine mandate specifically for private sector employees as of November 1. 

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