NYC teachers go back to court to battle vaccine mandate

ByDiana Rocco, Eyewitness News WABC logo
Wednesday, November 10, 2021
Teachers battle NYC's vaccine mandate in court over religious exemption
Diana Rocco reports on the teachers' vaccine mandate court battle.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- New York City teachers were back in court once again Wednesday, challenging the vaccine mandate that has kept them out of work and without pay.

Nine employees object on religious grounds, and the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit is Michael Kane, a special education teacher seeking religious exemption after he was denied.

Kane says the exemption process carried out by the city was "improper" and "discriminatory."

The three-judge panel of the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals, however, seemed unlikely to halt the vaccine mandate.

ALSO READ | Vaccinated 5- to 11-year-olds in New York eligible for full scholarship to SUNY or CUNY schools

The "Vaccinate, Educate, Graduate" scholarship is a five-week-long statewide outreach program incentivizing parents to vaccinate their children.

While Judge Pierre Laval conceded they may have valid points he said the city does too.

"The city has a very, very strong interest in protecting school children from COVID," Laval said during oral arguments.

The judges seemed wary of stopping a mandate that 96% of DOE employees have already followed in favor of nine people.

"Discrimination is ongoing," said Sujata Gibson, who represents the employees.

An attorney for the city, Susan Paulson, said the mandate does not discriminate because it applies to every religion, political persuasion and background.

"The mandate is not substantially under-inclusive," Paulson said. "It's facially neutral."

The 2nd Circuit recently lifted an injunction on New York State's vaccine mandate for health workers.

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