In a ruling that answered protests and efforts of New York’s many unvaccinated sanitation workers, a state judge ruled Tuesday that workers who were fired for not getting vaccinated against COVID-19 should be reinstated and given back pay.
State Supreme Court Justice Ralph Porzio ruled yesterday that the city’s health commissioner overstepped his authority and violated the workers’ due process and equal protection rights when he barred the workers from their jobs.
Porzio also cited Mayor Eric Adams’s lifting of the vaccine mandate for some private employees earlier this year as evidence that the public worker mandate was arbitrary and unreasonable.
“There is nothing in the record to support the rationality of keeping a vaccination mandate for public employees while vacating the mandate for private sector employees or creating a carveout for certain professions, like artists, athletes or performers,” Porzio wrote. “This is clearly an arbitrary and capricious action because we are dealing with identical unvaccinated people being treated differently by the same administrative agency.”
In an emailed statement, the city’s law department said it “strongly disagrees with this ruling as the mandate is firmly grounded in law and is critical to New Yorkers’ public health.”