ny Supreme Court

On 20 October 2021, the Health Commissioner of the City of New York issued an order requiring all city employees to show proof of at least one dose of vaccination against COVID-19 by 29 October 2021. Failure to do so may have resulted in suspension and the termination from office. On 31 December 2021, the Commissioner extended the vaccination mandate to employees in the private sector.

Then, on 24 March 2022, the Mayor enacted an order providing for blanket exemptions from the private employees’ vaccine mandate for certain professions. A number of former employees at the Department of Sanitation, who were terminated on account of their failure to comply with the vaccine mandate, filed suit arguing that the Mayor’s executive order rendered the public employee vaccination mandate arbitrary and capricious or unconstitutional.

By decision of 24 October 2022, the Supreme Court of the State of New York upheld the applicants’ claims. First, it found that the choice of keeping the vaccine mandate for public employees while vacating that for private sector employees was arbitrary and capricious since it had the result that identical unvaccinated people had been treated differently by the same administrative agency. Second, the Court held that, by ordering and enforcing a vaccination policy on only a portion of the population for an indefinite period of time, the Health Commissioner had acted beyond his authority since it had created a new condition of employment for City employers. On this basis, the Supreme Court concluded that the applicants should not have been terminated for their failure to comply with the vaccine mandate and ordered that they be reinstated to their full employment status. The Court also held that the applicants are entitled to back pay in salary from the date of termination.

Full text of the decision available at eddsa.blob.core.usgovcloudapi.net en