Katelynn Richardson on March 6, 2023
The New York State Unified Court System (UCS) must rehire and provide back pay with interest to employees fired as a result of the system’s vaccine mandate, the state’s Public Employment Relations Board decided last week.
Enforcement of the vaccine mandate must “cease and desist” and the system provide anyone who “lost accrued leave, compensation or employment” back pay with interest “at the maximum legal rate,” the New York Post reported. The decision will impact at least 25 fired court officers, New York State Court Officers Association president Dennis Quirk told the Post.
The UCS told the Daily Caller News Foundation it is “considering all further options.”
“We are reviewing the decision and considering all further options including an appeal,” a UCS spokesperson told the DCNF. “This ruling affects a bit less than 100 people.”
The system fired 103 employees and required four judges work from home last April, according to Reuters. In total, 200 workers resigned, retired, or were fired after the policy was implemented in September 2021, Quirk told the Post. In October, workers were denied a preliminary injunction against the policy.
Administrative Law Judge Mariam Manichaikul ruled that UCS did not meet the criteria for taking “unilateral action in an emergency situation” because it failed to negotiate with the worker unions, according to the Feb. 24 decision obtained by the Post. The UCS’ decision to cease talks in December 2021 “when no agreements had been reached nor impasse declared” is a “violation” of the Public Employees’ Fair Employment Act, Manichaikul wrote.
“In adopting the Policies, UCS unilaterally implemented extensive procedures that implicate various terms and conditions of employment, including leave time, compensation, discipline, job security and medical privacy, all of which must be bargained,” Manichaikul wrote, according to the Post.
The mandate was discontinued by the state court system last month after a city court judge sued, arguing that his denial of a religious exemption was a violation of his constitutional rights, according to Reuters. New York City Mayor Eric Adams also ended the vaccine mandate for city workers in early February.
A Staten Island judge ruled in October that NYC sanitation workers should be rehired and given back pay, which the Adams administration is currently appealing, according to NY Daily News.
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