On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled in favor of New York healthcare workers seeking religious exemptions from the state’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate by issuing a preliminary injunction barring employers from forcing their employees to get vaccinated.
Last month, 17 doctors, nurses, and other health professionals sued New York, claiming that the vaccine mandate violated their religious freedoms because it does not allow religious exemptions.
In response, Judge David Hurd of the Northern District Court of New York issued a temporary restraining order protecting all healthcare workers from the mandate, which had required them to get the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by September 27.
As reported by CBN News, Hurd issued a preliminary injunction on Tuesday, further prohibiting New York employers from enforcing the vaccine mandate and denying religious exemptions. Under the injunction, the state is also not allowed to revoke any previously granted exemptions.
As per the court’s ruling, state health officials are “barred from taking any action, disciplinary or otherwise, against the licensure, certification, residency, admitting privileges or other professional status or qualification of any of the plaintiffs on account of their seeking or having obtained a religious exemption from mandatory COVID-19 vaccination.”
Meanwhile, Gov. Kathy Hochul asserted that she will contest the decision in court.
“My responsibility as governor is to protect the people of this state, and requiring health care workers to get vaccinated accomplishes that,” she said in a statement.
Hurd, however, noted that healthcare workers suing New York had a better chance of succeeding because of their constitutional claims.
According to state health officials, as of Tuesday, facilities reported that 7,070 hospital workers and 2,636 nursing home workers have claimed a non-medical exemption.
Last month, Liberty Counsel, a nonprofit religious liberty law firm, filed a separate lawsuit on behalf of 1,500 health care workers against Hochul, Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard A. Zucker, Trinity Health, Inc., New York Presbyterian Healthcare System, Inc. (NYP), and Westchester Medical Center Advanced Physician Services, P.C.
Liberty Counsel is also seeking a preliminary injunction to protect healthcare workers employed by state and private employers who attempt to withdraw religious exemptions from the vaccine mandate.
The hearing is scheduled to take place on October 19.
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Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. He is also the co-hosts of the For Your Soul podcast, which seeks to equip the church with biblical truth and sound doctrine. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.