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NEW YORK CITY (LifeSiteNews) – Teachers and other employees fired by the New York City Department of Education for refusing to take a COVID-19 vaccine were designated “problems,” impairing their ability to find work elsewhere. Moreover, the department forwarded the designation to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to religious liberty attorneys currently suing the city.

Last September, NYC forced nearly 2,000 teachers and classroom aides out of work for their refusal to vaccinate. The following month, a New York state Supreme Court judge ruled against the mandate, ordering reinstatement and back pay for sixteen workers who had sued the city, opening the door for further civil actions by other fired municipal employees. Democrat Mayor Eric Adams has since ended the mandate, but the Alliance Defending Freedom has identified a serious challenge that remains for workers trying to get their jobs back.

The Daily Caller reports that, while appearing in court last Wednesday on behalf of a group of such workers, ADF revealed that NYC-DOE had marked their clients with “problem codes” for their refusal to vaccinate, and even forwarded these codes to the FBI, an agency mired in allegations that it discriminates against conservative Americans.

“Even for those who are eligible for reinstatement, when they apply they’ve all got so-called ‘problem codes’ in their personal file because they purportedly failed to fulfill a contractual condition, which was to get vaccinated,” explains ADF attorney John Bursch. “What is really horrible about that is not only does it affect their ability to get rehired by the state of New York, it affects their ability to go to any other employer because that ‘problem code’ note is paired with their fingerprints as a warning flag and sent to the FBI and the New York criminal justice services.”

ADF produced documents indicating that “all employees who were placed on 2VM vaccine mandate leave” were given these codes, and the only way to remove them is to submit to a COVID shot.

“[A]ny non-DOE school or official that wants to learn whether a former DOE employee has a problem code in his or her personnel file can easily do so in a variety of ways,” Bursch added. “For example, non-DOE schools which offer DOE-funded positions have access to the DOE’s payment portal, Galaxy, which allows them to see problem codes; indeed Plaintiffs present evidence of at least 15 former DOE employees who were not hired at non-DOE schools because the non-DOE schools discovered their problem codes.”

“I was shocked that I had been flagged as ineligible to work, because such problem codes often indicate poor performance reviews, misconduct, or even criminal activity. None of these apply to me,” said one of the victims of the policy, a teacher and therapist at NYC’s Early Intervention Program for disabled and developmentally-challenged children. “I did not understand how someone from outside the DOE could even possess this incorrect information about me, I was extremely embarrassed by its negative implications, and I was immensely disappointed that I had to inform the families that I had been assigned to that I could not [serve] their children.”

The attorney further noted that NYC-DOE officials used Pope Francis’s support for COVID vaccination as grounds to disregard religious objections from Catholics, as an example of how the “city simply didn’t like that some people objected to the vaccine on religious grounds and they punished them for that.” 

Many Americans continue to harbor reservations about the COVID shots, which were developed and released in a fraction of the time vaccines usually take under former President Donald Trump’s Operation Warp Speed initiative, for both moral and practical reasons.

READ: Virginia AG leads 19 states in demanding FBI come clean about ‘anti-Catholic’ memo, church spying

According to a detailed overview by the pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute, Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson all used aborted fetal cells during their vaccines’ testing phase; and Johnson & Johnson also used the cells during the design & development and production phases. Many Americans believe the use of abortion-derived cells crosses a grave moral line.

While some in the media have attempted to deny or downplay that point, the Washington Examiner’s Timothy Carney notes that the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s journal Science admits that cell lines from aborted babies were used in the shots’ development. The left-wing “fact-checking” outlet Snopes has also acknowledged as much.

Many Americans also persist in severe doubts about the shots’ effectiveness and safety, citing mounting evidence linking them to significant health problems.

The U.S. federal government’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) reports 34,270 deaths, 191,486 hospitalizations, 18,504 heart attacks, and 26,388 myocarditis and pericarditis cases as of February 3. An April 2022 study out of Israel indicates that COVID infection itself cannot fully account for such myocarditis cases, despite common insistence to the contrary. Jab defenders are quick to stress that reports submitted to VAERS are unconfirmed, as anyone can submit one, but U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) researchers have recognized a “high verification rate of reports of myocarditis to VAERS after mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccination,” leading to the conclusion that “under-reporting is more likely” than over-reporting.

READ: Mississippi Republicans kill vaccine religious exemption bill for school kids: report

Further, VAERS is not the only data source containing red flags. Data from the U.S. Pentagon’s Defense Medical Epidemiology Database (DMED) shows that 2021 saw drastic spikes in a variety of diagnoses for serious medical issues over the previous five-year average, including hypertension (2,181%), neurological disorders (1,048%), multiple sclerosis (680%), Guillain-Barre syndrome (551%), breast cancer, (487%), female infertility (472%), pulmonary embolism (468%), migraines (452%), ovarian dysfunction (437%), testicular cancer (369%), and tachycardia (302%).

Last September, the Japanese Society for Vaccinology published a peer-reviewed study conducted by researchers from Stanford, UCLA, and the University of Maryland, which found that the “Pfizer trial exhibited a 36% higher risk of serious adverse events in the vaccine group” while the “Moderna trial exhibited a 6% higher risk of serious adverse events in the vaccine group,” for a combined “16% higher risk of serious adverse events in mRNA vaccine recipients.”

In December 2022, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) hosted a roundtable discussion during which civil rights attorney Aaron Siri detailed data from the CDC’s V-Safe reporting system revealing that 800,000 of the system’s 10 million participants, or approximately 7.7 percent, reported needing medical care after COVID injection. “25 percent of those people needed emergency care or were hospitalized, and another 48 percent sought urgent care,” Siri added. “Also, another 25 percent on top of the 7.7 percent reported being unable to work or go to school.”

Another study by a team of American, British, and Canadian researchers, published December 5 by the in the Journal of Medical Ethics, found that COVID booster mandates for university students – a relatively healthy group at relatively low risk from the virus – do far more harm than good: “per COVID-19 hospitalisation prevented, we anticipate at least 18.5 serious adverse events from mRNA vaccines, including 1.5–4.6 booster-associated myopericarditis cases in males (typically requiring hospitalisation).”