Federal judge intervenes, extends vaccine mandate ban for some New York health care workers

Across the country, a number of health care workers who’re subject to sweeping new COVID-19 vaccine mandates are fighting back in the court system, and, in some cases, they’re winning.

For instance, according to WHEC, a group of health care workers in New York scored a major victory last week when a Utica-based federal judge extended a ban on the vaccine mandate for workers who refuse to take the vaccine based on religious grounds. The ban was extended until Oct. 12, and could buy enough time for the temporary ruling to turn into a preliminary injunction.

WHEC reporter Berkeley Brean asked a local attorney to explain what the federal judge’s order means, and what it could mean for the future.

“So a person doesn’t have to show up with a letter from their pastor to say, ah see? I get an exception. It’s just a personal thing for that individual that they need, to be honest about?” Brean asked Vahey Law Offices attorney Jared Cook.

“That’s essentially correct yes,” Cook responded. The attorney added that while that’s the case right now, he expects employers will make an attempt to weed out workers who are faking religious beliefs from those who are being sincere with their religious exemption requests.

That issue aside, on Oct. 12, Judge David Hurd will determine whether his mandate ban extension will become a preliminary injunction, which would mean the ban on the mandate for health care workers who claim religious exemption would be protected by the order until the totality of the case is decided, possibly in the state’s supreme court.

Leading the charge in the lawsuit filed against the state is a group of 17 New York health care workers. They originally wrote in their complaint that “it would be a violation of their deeply held religious beliefs and moral consciences to take any of the available COVID-19 vaccines given their use of abortion-derived fetal cell lines in testing, development, or production.”

All eyes will be on the final outcome of the developing situation, as the final decision in the case, whenever that comes, could set a precedent for religious health care workers across the country, one way or another.