New York State Supreme Court Judge Gerard Neri ruled to strike down a statewide mandate for medical staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 on Jan. 13. Governor Kathy Hochul has since  indicated that the overturning of the mandate will not allow any unvaccinated workers to get their jobs back.

Hochul’s office said that the state has already filed a notice of appeal this Tuesday with an intent to challenge the decision.

“Governor Hochul is committed to protecting the health and safety of New Yorkers, including our health care workers, who are entrusted with caring for the most vulnerable among us,” said Hochul’s office in response to Amsterdam News’ inquiry. 

Neri declared the vaccination mandates for medical staff “null, void, and of no effect,” similar to when Staten Island Supreme Court Judge Ralph Porzioa deemed the vaccine mandate “arbitrary and capricious.” Porzioa reinstated 16 sanitation workers with back pay in that case. 

Those rulings are a drop in the bucket considering an injunction placed by the State Supreme Court in Onondaga County is still in effect, and the State Department of Health has won several other legal challenges against mandates.

Former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio first instituted the vaccine mandate in October 2021. Over 12,000 city workers filed for religious or medical exemptions. By March 2022, Mayor Eric Adams had lifted the mandate for professional athletes and entertainers. In November, he did the same for private employers. The mandate rollbacks have been cited in a number of lawsuits challenging the city’s denials of religious accommodations.

District Council 37, AFSCME, AFL-CIO (DC 37) is New York City’s largest public employee union. A DC 37 spokesperson said that about 2,000 unvaccinated city employees to date lost their jobs due to the mandates. 

DC 37 declined to comment further on efforts to restore worker’s jobs due to obligations in an ongoing court battle with Adams and his administration.

Amsterdam News reached out to the Mayor’s office for comment, but did not receive a response by press time.

Ariama C. Long is a Report for America corps member and writes about politics for the Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting:

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