A lawsuit has been filed in federal court challenging New York City’s sweeping mandate requiring nearly all private-sector businesses to ban unvaccinated employees from the workplace, asserting that the city’s attempt to control the coronavirus pandemic deprives tens of thousands of businesses from pursuing their livelihoods.
The lawsuit filed Tuesday contends businesses like Cornerstone Realty, a Staten Island real estate firm that is the only named plaintiff in the case, are being unduly forced to fire unvaccinated workers and asserts the city’s vaccination edict lacks mechanisms for businesses to appeal.
“This case is not about vaccines, but about an employer’s right to be heard,” the lawsuit states.
The edict was one of two-term Mayor Bill de Blasio’s final acts before relinquishing his office at the end of the year. He set a Dec. 27 deadline for virtually all private sector businesses — roughly 184,000 businesses that employ hundreds of thousands of people — to require workers to show proof that they have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Businesses face fines of at least $1,000 for noncompliance.
The city’s new mayor, Eric Adams, has been in his job for less than a week but must immediately confront myriad challenges posed by COVID-19, including the latest surge that has spiked the number of infections to record levels.
It remains to be seen how Adams will respond to those challenges and what measures put in place by his predecessor he might keep or jettison as he formulates his own pandemic policies. Before taking office, Adams affirmed his support for the vaccine mandate, as well as de Blasio’s insistence on keeping schools open.
While acknowledging the turmoil the pandemic has wrought on small businesses, Adams made no mention of the mandate in his remarks during a visit Tuesday to a struggling small business in Manhattan, where he signed an executive order that he said would “slash red tape, reduce needless fines and penalties,” and would “bring relief to our heartbroken entrepreneurs.”
Chase Bank has shuttered more than three dozen branches in the Big Apple as the mega-bank struggles with staff shortages and vaccine mandates amid a surge in Omicron.
While the COVID variant has shelved many JP Morgan Chase employees, at least one local pol blamed the bank closures on “prohibitive” city and state mandates that require private-sector workers to be vaccinated before they can show up for a day at the office.
“It doesn’t give business an opportunity to open the front door,” City Councilman Joe Borelli, a Staten Island Republican, told The Post.
“If we want to re-populate our offices in New York, this mandate is a prohibition on many of those people coming back,” Borelli said.
Borelli also took to Twitter Wednesday to make his point, posting a photo of the laminated signs that adorn many closed branches.
“I don’t think the mandates are working in #nyc,” he wrote.
“Our branch is temporarily closed due to New York City’s COVID-19 Workplace Vaccination Order,” the sign on the door of one branch reads.