October 31, 2022

Back Pay and Reinstatement for COVID-Related Firing

  • Analysis, Flyover Country

By Ophelia Garrett

In Brief: 

A New York Judge has overruled the Covid vaccine mandate in New York City for city employees, calling it “arbitrary and capricious.” He ruled that employees should receive back pay for the losses they had, and to receive their jobs back. Yet, not everyone agrees. 

The Background: 

Judge Ralph Porzio in Staten Island cited President Joe Biden's recent declaration that the pandemic was over, and a decision by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul not to renew the state's COVID-19 emergency, in his ruling. Porzio stated, "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."

However, not everyone agrees or believes in medical freedom. "The city strongly disagrees with this ruling as the mandate is firmly grounded in law and is critical to New Yorkers' public health," a spokesman for the Law Department said in a statement. "We continue to review the court's decision, which conflicts with numerous other rulings already upholding the mandate."

ABC reports that the ruling said the vaccine requirement violated the sanitation workers' due process rights, along with the separation of powers. The judge also criticized a decision in March to exempt athletes, artists and performers. "Granting exemptions for certain classes and selectively lifting vaccination orders, while maintaining others, is simply the definition of disparate treatment,” he stated.

Notable Quotes: 

“The vaccine mandate for City employees was not just about safety and public health; it was about compliance. If it was about safety and public health, unvaccinated workers would have been placed on leave the moment the order was issued.” –Judge Ralph Porzio

What do you think?