A group of security guards who work at state-run health care facilities have filed a lawsuit against New York state, saying the mandate that requires them to receive their first COVID-19 vaccine dose by Monday is unconstitutional.
Former state Attorney General Dennis Vacco filed the lawsuit on their behalf and argues this mandate targets this sector unfairly.
“The lead cause of action that we allege in the lawsuit was an equal protection claim asserting that our clients were being treated differently by the state of New York when compared to other requirements imposed upon teachers in New York state,” Vacco explained.
All health care employees must be vaccinated by Monday or they could be at risk of losing their jobs.
This has prompted a host of lawsuits and some health care facilities are preparing for staffing shortages.
Vacco asserts that these ten security guards should not lose their jobs if they don’t want to be vaccinated and said there should at the very least be a testing option.
“There’s no wiggle room, there's no leeway,” Vacco said. “And it's unfair because teachers are treated differently under similar circumstances.”
The security guards, who work at the SUNY Downstate Hospital in Brooklyn, the SUNY Stony Brook hospital on Long Island and the state Veterans Home in northern Westchester County, are all members of the New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association (NYSCOPBA), which is funding the court challenge.
Vacco also filed a temporary restraining order to keep the mandate from going into effect, but a judge denied this motion.
Gov. Kathy Hochul said the state fully intends to move forward with this mandate despite pushback from certain groups.
Hochul said that before Monday, she will be announcing ways to address possible staffing shortages as a result of the mandate.
“I'm still working on the legality of what I will need to do,” Hochul explained. “It is still my hope that the as the hours tick down that more people realize they have a responsibility to protect their patients and to protect their fellow workers. So we're hoping that the numbers of people vaccinated will go up in the next few days.”
A federal judge for a different case did temporarily stop the vaccine mandate from going into effect for health care workers who claim a religious exemption, until Oct. 12 when the case will be revisited.