Health Workers Seek New Injunction Against New York Refusal to Honor Religious Vaccine Exemptions

A group of New York healthcare workers being persecuted for their religious objections to the COVID-19 vaccine is seeking a new injunction after a United States Supreme Court ruling in a federal healthcare lawsuit. Thomas More Society attorneys filed a renewed motion on January 30, 2022, seeking emergency and preliminary injunctive relief against the state for the health professionals in the United States District Court. New York Governor Kathy Hochul and her administration were ordered by Judge David Hurd to respond by February 11, and the health care workers will have until February 18 to reply.

The lawsuit centers around the state of New York’s refusal to honor religious exemptions for the healthcare worker COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The filing is in light of the Supreme Court’s January 13 decision upholding the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for Medicaid and Medicare-participating healthcare facilities, for which the high court acknowledged religious exemptions.

Thomas More Society attorneys filed the renewed motion along with an amended complaint on behalf of New York doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals who hold religious objections to the COVID vaccine. The health workers received an original preliminary injunction against Hochul’s categorical ban on religious exemptions to COVID-19 vaccination in October 2021 from the district court. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit vacated that decision shortly thereafter. A subsequent emergency appeal to the United States Supreme Court was denied, though accompanied by a strong dissent from Justice Neil Gorsuch who wrote of the high court that, “we fail ourselves,” by not granting the motion.

“Governor Hochul’s now obviously pointless vaccination crusade contradicts, not only Title VII, but the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services mandate, both of which require what she refuses to allow: religious exemptions from COVID-19 vaccination,” said Thomas More Society Special Counsel Christopher Ferrara.

“The Second Circuit did not have the benefit of the federal healthcare mandate in holding that Title VII permits only ‘accommodations’ under Hochul’s mandate, but not ‘exemptions.’ The two terms are equivalent, as the federal mandate makes clear,” Ferrara added.

The original lawsuit emphasized the New York mandate’s direct conflict with the required religious accommodations afforded under Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the necessary neutrality compelled by the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.

“The conflict between Governor Hochul’s will and federal law is now beyond dispute. The entire situation has been a nightmare for these medical professionals who were once hailed as the heroes of the pandemic,” said Ferrara. “These doctors, nurses, and other health workers were terminated or voluntarily resigned from their employment as a result of their religious objection to taking the vaccine. One lost his private practice partnership, one moved out of state, and five submitted under duress to initial COVID-19 vaccination to avoid losing their employment but continue to religiously object to taking additional booster shots they are now additionally required to get as of January 21, 2022. The sixteen healthcare heroes who remain in New York are in dire need of immediate relief to avoid further violations of their constitutional rights, ongoing unemployment, and/or imminent additional violations of their religiously formed consciences.”

As the group of medical professionals prepares a regular appeal to the Supreme Court from the proceedings last fall, that Court’s decision in the federal healthcare vaccine mandate case requires that covered medical facilities, including those in New York, protect the ability to seek “religious exemptions.” That is the basis for the renewed motion for injunctive relief in the district court.

The new filings report that it has become apparent that COVID vaccines do not prevent transmission of the virus, and that healthcare professionals across the state are contracting COVID and are required to quarantine, but then are required to return to work after only five days per new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance on self-isolation. And because of vaccine failure, the guidance now also provides that both unvaccinated and vaccinated workers infected by the virus can return to work, even if “mildly symptomatic,” in order to address a staffing crisis.

The filed motion noted that “it has now become obvious that New York’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate is utterly ineffective and counterproductive. It notably provoked the firing or forced resignations of 37,000 healthcare workers across New York, only to be followed by Governor Hochul declaring a statewide crisis in healthcare staffing. And the prevailing science now shows that COVID-19 vaccination does not prevent healthcare workers from getting and transmitting the virus (especially the now-dominant Omicron variant).”

“This farce must be brought to an end,” declared Ferrara. “As jurisdictions in 47 states and around the world have refused to adopt or have abandoned such draconian vaccine mandates, New York’s governor and her health bureaucrats are in need of adult supervision regarding respect for religious freedom.”

The healthcare workers are represented by Ferrara, along with Thomas More Society Senior Counsel Steve Crampton and Counsel Michael McHale.

Read the First Amended Verified Complaint filed with the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York on January 30, 2022, by Thomas More Society attorneys in Dr. A, et al. v. Kathy Hochul, Governor of the State of New York, et al. here, along with the accompanying Memorandum of Law in Support of Plaintiffs’ Renewed Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and a Preliminary Injunction here.

SOURCE Thomas More Society