Supreme Court Reproaches NYC For Dismissing Unvaccinated Workers

The New York Supreme Court held that 16 New York City Department of Sanitation employees were unlawfully discharged under the city’s “unfair and unjust” COVID vaccine requirement.

The court ordered them to be reinstated to full employment with more than eight months of severance wages.

In a judgment announced on Tuesday, the court decided the vaccine requirement for public workers was not only about safeness and public health, but also compliance.

It continued by saying if it were a matter of safety and public welfare, personnel without vaccinations would have been sent on leave as soon as the order was made.

Nobody would be spared if safety and public health were at stake. They concluded that New York City needs to act morally and ethically. 

The Mandate

In October 2021, New York City passed a COVID vaccination mandate requiring all city employees to provide proof of at least one vaccination. Employees who failed to comply by October 29 were terminated. 

Despite working full-time for over four months after the requirement went into effect, the unvaccinated petitioners were dismissed in February 2022 after receiving “vague and broad denials” of their vaccination exemptions. 

In December 2021, Mayor Eric Adams extended the requirement to private sector employees, then reversed course in March for sports, performers, and artists. The court emphasized this judgment was the city’s undoing in this case.

The court stated there is nothing in evidence to demonstrate the reasonableness of maintaining a vaccine mandate for public employees, while vacating the duty for private sector workers or creating an exemption for particular professions, such as athletes, entertainers, and performers.

This conduct is clearly unjustified because similar unvaccinated individuals are treated separately by the same governmental entity. 

The court also affirmed the petitioners had organic immunity against COVID, due to previous infections.

It ruled the city’s Board of Health lacked the authority to arbitrarily, indefinitely alter the employment conditions for any agency; therefore, the sanitation staff were unjustly terminated. 


During a state of a public health emergency, the court opined it lacked the authority to dispute temporary immunization orders.

However, mandating and implementing this vaccine program on a subset of the population indefinitely is tantamount to legislating, given that “states of emergency are intended to be temporary.” 

Because of the city’s unfair vaccine mandate, about 1,500 New York City employees, including police officers, were laid off. Hundreds of others quit their jobs after being pushed to choose between work and liberty. 

Consequently, thousands of New Yorkers demonstrated against the state’s medical coercion of state employees, healthcare providers, and teachers.

They were particularly dissatisfied with the city’s attempt to compel businesses to require confirmed “vaccine passports” in exchange for products and services; there was no evidence the vaccination prevented the spread of the infection, as the court noted in its decision. 

The court noted that vaccination does not prevent COVID-19 infection or transmission. The plaintiffs should never have been fired for opting against self-defense. Throughout the course of this epidemic, they have found the COVID-19 vaccine is not perfect.