Home Health care provider Judge extends ban on enforcement of state vaccine mandate in healthcare

Judge extends ban on enforcement of state vaccine mandate in healthcare

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A northern judge extended the temporary ban on the state’s ability to enforce immunization mandates for healthcare workers seeking religious exemptions, although this may not be not the reprieve that some employees are hoping for.

Employers can still seek to exercise their own mandates in the interim, legal experts have said, and determine whether to grant or deny religious exemptions on an individual basis.

In a case filed in court earlier this week, Judge David N. Hurd of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York in Utica postponed – in part because of COVID concerns – a September 28 hearing in the part of a lawsuit against the governor’s office and the Ministry of Health filed by 17 anonymous health professionals

Hurd also extended a temporary restraining order on the state’s ability to enforce his mandate until October 12. One of the main goals is the tenure rule that religious objections to vaccination cannot be taken into account by health care employers.

According to the mandate, by Monday, September 27, workers in hospitals, nursing homes and other health care facilities must have at least one dose of one of the three vaccines.

Despite the judge’s ruling, unvaccinated healthcare workers can still be fired if their religious objections are not considered “sincere or genuine,” labor lawyer Jessica Baquet said.

“Let’s say the plaintiffs win whatever they ask for,” said Baquet, chairman of the labor and employment law group at Jaspan Schlesinger in Garden City. “All of this then means that employers will have to revisit religious exemptions as they normally would.” This process, she said, may find that an employee’s religious objection claims are not sincerely founded – for example, an employee claiming that vaccines contain material objectionable to their religion might be asked to ‘he takes common medications that contain the same material.

While employers under normal employment law are required to consider requests for exemptions based on religion, they are only required to make a good faith effort to accommodate employees whose objections are deemed legitimate.

“The argument I expect the state to make is that allowing unvaccinated employees into healthcare will pose a direct threat to the safety of the employee or others. people in the workplace, ”said Domenique Camacho Moran, labor and employment lawyer at Farrell Fritz in Uniondale.

Northwell Health, the state’s largest health care system, based in New Hyde Park, “is currently reviewing several hundred requests for religious exemptions,” spokeswoman Barbara Osborn said in a statement. “Our review process will comply with applicable law which provides guidance on how to handle such requests.”

Osborn stressed that the northern state judge’s order does not prevent the warrant from coming into effect on Monday. It only prevents the state from banning religious exemptions.

“We are currently reviewing the judge’s order to understand our obligations and any potential operational implications and determine how to most effectively adjust our processes to accommodate this ruling,” she said.

A nurse aide at an Amityville nursing home said the tenure of healthcare workers is unfair after everything healthcare workers have been through for the past 18 months.

“If we don’t choose to get the shot, they fire us,” said Marilyn Welch, 57, of Wyandanch. ““ I’m a true believer in what I stand for, ”Welch said.“ My gut tells me not to take it. “

She is considering filing a religious objection on the grounds that the vaccine contains fetal cells. None of the vaccines contain fetal cells, although the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was developed using clones of cell lines created decades ago from fetal tissue, according to the City of Health Department of Health. New York.

Pope Francis urged Catholics to get vaccinated, and some Catholic dioceses, including the Rockville Center Diocese, have advised parishioners to take the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines instead of Johnson & Johnson.

In another development on the mandate front on Wednesday, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Laurence L. Love sided with city officials against unions and removed a temporary restraining order preventing the Department of Education to move forward with its city-wide vaccine mandate on teachers and other audiences. school staff.

With David Olson