LIEB BLOG

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Thursday, September 30, 2021

NYC School Employees Go to Justice Sotomayor of the Supreme Court for Relief - Should They Get It?

In their best written papers to date, NYC school employees argued to the Supreme Court that they need a stay of the October 1, 2021 deadline to get vaccinated. 


They argue that the vaccination order prevents them from lawfully pursuing their occupation, which is a fundamental Due Process right. They claim that their alternative options of private school teaching, adult or continuing education teaching, or private tutoring are not pursuing their occupations completely. Nonetheless, they fail to address whether taking "their certifications and seek[ing] employment in any other public school system... in the State," would be pursuing their occupations completely, as NYC had argued before the Second Circuit. 


Regardless, the issue of whether the employees can still pursue their profession is where the case is likely to be decided. In their opposition before the Second Circuit, the City had argued and emphasized that Due Process protection is only afforded if "a plaintiff is completely prohibited from engaging in his or her chosen profession." However, the school employees now argue that "a violation of one’s fundamental right to pursue an occupation exists and gives rise to a due process claim where there is less than a complete inability to practice one’s profession." Which one is it? Who is right? 


What do you think the law should be? 


The other argument advanced by the school employees is that the vaccination order should have given them an option to opt out of vaccination for weekly testing because school staff should be treated equally to firefighters and police officers who have that option. While this seems like a good argument in an initial read of the papers, the school employees' argument that firefighters and police officers present a greater risk to spread COVID because they have contact with the public as opposed to school children who have less severe COVID fails the smell test when it's considered that adults can be vaccinated and those under 12 years of age cannot. However, we will see. 




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