NEW YORK CITY (LifeSiteNews) — A group of educators in New York City who were fired for refusing to get the experimental COVID-19 shots will get their jobs back along with back-pay, a judge ruled Wednesday. The decision will only apply to the group of 10 plaintiffs, but could set an important precedent for future lawsuits.
In a 22-page opinion handed down Wednesday, New York State Supreme Court Judge Ralph J. Porzio ruled that the decision to “summarily” deny religious accommodation requests was “arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable,” Fox News reported.
Porzio previously ruled in favor of 16 Department of Sanitation employees who argued the city’s jab mandate was unconstitutional.
In his decision for the case, DiCapua v. City of New York, Porzio ruled that there had been “no rational basis” to justify “the seemingly blanket denial of any religious exemption to all classroom teachers” or barring “unvaccinated classroom teachers in amongst an admitted population of primarily unvaccinated students.”
“As such, the decision to summarily deny the classroom teachers amongst the Panel Petitioners based on an undue hardship, without any further evidence of individualized analysis, is arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable. As such, each classroom teacher amongst the Panel Petitioners is entitled to a religious exemption from the Vaccine Mandate,” he wrote.
According to Fox, the case centered around 10 “school principals, teachers and other educators.” The plaintiffs – who were among thousands of city employees including teachers, police officers, firefighters, and sanitation workers ordered to get the new injection or lose their jobs – filed a lawsuit against the city when their application for a religious exemption to the rule was denied.
Thanks to the Wednesday decision, the educators must be permitted to regain their positions along with backpay in “salaries, benefits, pensions, and seniority,” The Daily Wire reported.
However, the relief will only apply to the 10 plaintiffs who filed the suit.
The Daily Wire noted that the plaintiffs’ request to turn their lawsuit into a class action suit was denied by the judge. According to Children’s Health Defense, Porzio ruled that the “parameters the petitioners submitted for defining the class were overly broad.”
“Although the petitioners’ overall position is that the citywide panel did not provide relief to the vast majority of initial DOE applicants, and specifically that these petitioners did seek that review, the record before this court is insufficient to make any determination as to those claims,” the judge wrote.
Six plaintiffs who failed to complete the administrative process or who were approved for exemptions to the mandate were also denied relief.
Sujata Gibson, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, said the ruling was a “watershed moment” and a “precedent-setting victory,” even though it wasn’t “everything we wanted,” Fox reported.
“The Court’s decision not only grants relief to these ten teachers, but it also sets important precedent for all other teachers denied religious accommodation,” Gibson said.
“The court’s ruling in the class certification still leaves the door open to future relief for thousands of teachers negatively affected by the vaccine requirement,” she said, adding that her team plans to “ file a motion of reconsideration on a narrower basis.”
Fox News reported that it reached out to the New York City Department of Education and Mayor Eric Adams’ office but did not immediately receive a response.