A judge ruled earlier this week that Mayor Bill de Blasio’s vaccine mandate for all Department of Education staff can move forward as planned.
Late last month, de Blasio ordered all DOE staff, included roughly 78,000 public school teachers, to get at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine by Monday, Sept. 27 as the City prepared for a full return of public school students.
A judge filed a temporary restraining order last week temporarily stalling the mandate after a coalition of municipal worker labor unions, called the New York City Municipal Labor Committee, sued the City over the mandate calling it unconstitutional.
The lawsuit was supported by a number of fellow unions including the city´s powerful teacher union, the United Federation of Teachers, which is still is still trying to secure religious and medical exemptions from the vaccine for some members.
“We´ve had relatively few requests for medical and religious exemptions, each of those gets reviewed individually,” de Blasio told reporters Thursday. “Some of those will be approved and some of them won’t by definition.”
In his ruling, State Supreme Court Judge Laurence Love states the union was unable to adequately prove that the vaccine mandate violates City employees’ due process rights. Instead, Love argues the state and federal courts have “consistently held” vaccination requirements do not impact these rights and are within the state´s power.
“The connection petitioner seeks to make utilizing this line of cases simply does not pass the smell test… the state and federal courts have consistently held that a mandatory vaccine requirement does not violate substantive due process rights and properly fall within the State’s police power,” Love said.
“This case has already led to progress in protecting the rights of our members, since the city – in the wake of the court’s initial issuance of the restraining order –admitted that there can be exceptions to the vaccine mandate,” said Municipal Labor Committee Chair Harry Nespoli in a statement. “The court — while lifting the restraining order — has not made a final decision, and we are preparing additional material to support our case.”
“It is legal, it is fair and we are moving forward with it on Monday,” Mayor de Blasio in response to the court’s findings on Thursday.