Posted 5 days ago
ALBANY — New York's vaccine mandate for health care workers was dealt a damaging blow on Tuesday when a federal judge in Utica granted a preliminary injunction on behalf of 17 medical workers who contend the state's failure to consider religious exemptions has violated their constitutional rights.
The ruling suspends the mandate "to the extent that the (state) Department of Health is barred from enforcing any requirement that
employers deny religious exemptions from COVID-19 vaccination or that they revoke any exemptions employers already granted
before (the mandate was) issued."
The state also is barred from interfering with the granting of religious exemptions going forward as the case is fully litigated in U. S. District Court.
Gov. Kathy Hochul issued a statement immediately following the decision, saying he "responsibility as governor is to protect the people of this state, and requiring health care workers to get vaccinated accomplishes that. I stand behind this mandate, and I will fight this decision in court to keep New Yorkers safe."
U. S. District Judge David N. Hurd issued the 27-page decision, noting that the state offered "no adequate explanation" as to why a health care worker who qualified as "medically exempt" from vaccination could be afforded the ability to submit to daily testing before each shift and wearing a fitted N95 mask, but that "reasonable accommodation" was not extended to a worker with a "sincere religious objection."
"Nor have defendants explained why they chose to depart from similar healthcare vaccination mandates issued in other jurisdictions that include the kind of religious exemption that was originally present in the Aug. 18 order" that
The case was filed last month against Hochul, health Commissioner Howard Zucker and state Attorney General Letitia James on behalf of the 17 unidentified medical professionals.
The group of plaintiffs are a mix of mostly physicians and nur... (Read more)
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