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Showing posts with label vaccine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vaccine. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Vaccine Requirement for NYC Teachers Temporarily Restrained

The New York State Supreme Court (lowest level court with jurisdiction) issued a temporary restraining order until the sooner of a hearing or 9/22/21 concerning New York City's vaccine mandate for public education employees who instead argue for a Vax-Or-Test policy. 

To see the arguments yourself, in The New York City Municipal Labor Committee et al vs. The City of New York et al, click here

Specifically, the Order, at issue, "requires [vaccines for] all DOE staff, City employees, and contractors who 'work in person in a DOE school setting or DOE building'; and '[a]ll employees of any school serving students up to grade 12 and any UPK-3 or UPK-4 program that is located in a DOE building who work in-person, and all contractors hired by such schools or programs to work in-person' to – no later than September 27, 2021"

The teachers union makes three arguments against the Order, as follows:

  • "[B]odily integrity and the right to refuse medical treatment;"
  • A violation of "due process rights" because it prevents "permanently-appointed DOE and City employees declining vaccination from engaging in their employment;" and 
  • It "fails to provide required exceptions for those with medical contraindications or sincerely-held religious objections". 

The best argument is clearly the third because "DOE has advised that it will not allow those with medical or religious exceptions – should those be accepted – to continue working in person under a strict testing regimen, or remotely with those students receiving remote instructions. Nor is it clear at this stage how those who refuse vaccination will be treated as to leaves, benefits, and other statutory rights." 

While DOE may be able to refuse a given accommodation request that results in an employee working in a building, accommodations must be decided on a case-by-case basis, under binding law, and therefore, such a blanket policy is legally problematic. 

As we've been suggesting from the outset, NYC Government should negotiate with the Union as to appropriate accommodations. Think about it like a class action of the cooperative dialogue (required mediation following an accommodation request under NYC employment discrimination law).

Otherwise, NYC Government will continuously find itself engaging in individualized cooperative dialogues with each employee that requests an accommodation. That is a financially infeasible result for NYC plus it will cause many teachers to bring suit following each cooperative dialogue. All of this can and should be amicably resolved through advance negotiations by giving the Unions a seat at the table.


Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Vaccines vs. Sincerely Held Religious Beliefs - First Round Goes to Religion

The Federal Court for the Northern District of New York has enjoined vaccine mandates based upon sincerely held religious beliefs by way of issuing a Temporary Restraining Order in the case of Dr. A v. Hochul.  

Here is how the plaintiffs' argued that the vaccine violate their sincerely held religious beliefs - "vaccines [] were tested, developed or produced with fetal cells line derived from procured abortions." According to the plaintiffs:

 Johnson & Johnson/Janssen: Fetal cell cultures are used to produce and manufacture the J&J COVID-19 vaccine and the final formulation of this vaccine includes residual amounts of the fetal host cell proteins (≤0.15 mcg) and/or host cell DNA (≤3 ng).

 Pfizer/BioNTech: The HEK-293 abortion-related cell line was used in research related to the development of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

 Moderna/NIAID: Aborted fetal cell lines were used in both the development and testing of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.

Further, plaintiffs religious beliefs are that they "oppose abortion under any circumstances, as they believe that abortion is the intrinsically evil killing of an innocent" and follow "spiritual leaders... who urge Christians to refuse said vaccines to avoid cooperation in abortion and to bear witness against it without compromise" and finally, their "religious conviction [is] against involuntary or coerced vaccination as an invasion of bodily autonomy contrary to their religious beliefs."

To be clear, the case is far from over with the next court deadline for the defendants to respond being set at September 22, 2021 at 5pm. As of this moment, no preliminary injunction or permanent injunction has been ordered. At this stage, the court has merely granted a temporary restraining order, which prohibits the denial of "religious exemptions from COVID-19 vaccination" until round two of the case.

However, if you are the type of person who has a sincerely held religious belief against vaccination, you should use this case as your blueprint to request an accommodation.



Wednesday, June 02, 2021

Employees are Entitled to Use Paid Sick Leave to Recover from COVID-19 Vaccinations.

To provide further incentive for people to get vaccinated, The New York State Department of Labor recently issued guidance permitting employees to use paid sick leave to recover from side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine. The New York State legislature previously passed a law entitling employees to paid leave to receive vaccinations.

New York State law requires employers with five or more employees (or net income of more than $1 million dollars) to provide 40 hours of annual paid sick leave to its employees. New York Labor Law Sec. 196-b permits employees to use sick leave "for mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition, regardless of whether it had been diagnosed or requires medical care at the time of the request for leave." 

The DOL clarified that Section 196-b requires employers to "honor the employee's desire to use accrued sick leave for recovery of any side effects of the COVID-19 vaccination." 

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

NY Employees are Entitled to Paid Leave to Receive COVID-19 Vaccine

To further encourage mass vaccination, the Governor signed Senate Bill S2588A into law, which requires employers to provide employees with a "sufficient period of time", but not more than four (4) hours, of paid leave to receive each COVID-19 vaccine injection. The law is effective immediately and expires on December 31, 2022.

Employers must pay employees at their regular rate of pay for all hours of vaccination leave and may not require employees to first use other entitled leave (e.g. NYS Paid Sick Leave, NYC Paid Sick and Safe Leave, Employer sick leave policy). 

The law is noticeably silent on what if any verification an employer can request from an employee to prove they received the vaccine during the leave and how much notice an employee needs to provide prior to using such leave. The Department of Labor has yet to issue guidance on these issues.

How much notice before taking leave do you think should be required?

Should employees be required to submit verification to employers that they actually used the leave to get vaccinated?