OAN’s Abril Elfi
12:47 PM – Friday, September 8, 2023
A New York judge ruled that the teachers who were fired for refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine must be reinstated with backpay.
On Wednesday, State Supreme Court Judge Ralph J. Porzio stated that the 10 employees that were fired by the New York City Department of Education for refusing to comply with the COVID-19 vaccine mandate should get their job back with backpay.
“This Court sees no rational basis for not allowing unvaccinated classroom teachers in amongst an admitted population of primarily unvaccinated students,” Porzio wrote. “As such, the decision to summarily deny the classroom teachers amongst the Panel Petitioners based on an undue hardship, without any further evidence of individualized analysis, is arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable. As such, each classroom teacher amongst the Panel Petitioners is entitled to a religious exemption from the Vaccine Mandate.”
The case involved educators who sued New York City after they were fired for not wanting to get the vaccination and city officials rejected their religious exemptions.
The vaccine mandate in New York City was in effect from October 1st, 2021 until February 10th, 2023.
Reportedly, more than 1,750 city workers were fired for refusing to get vaccinated, which include 36 members of the New York City Police Department (NYPD) and over 950 public school employees.
Sujata Gibson, the lead attorney in the case, released a statement after the ruling calling it a victory for the educators fight for relief.
“This victory is a watershed moment in the teachers’ two-year fight for relief,” Gibson said. “The court’s decision not only grants relief to these ten teachers, but it also sets important precedent for all other teachers denied religious accommodation.”
Last year, Porzio had ruled that the city’s policy was enforced “illegally” and workers who were fired for refusing to comply must be “immediately reinstated” with backpay. However, the city eventually appealed the ruling.
It is unknown whether the recent ruling will be applied or appealed once again.
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