|Judge Brian Cogan|
Tom McParland, Law.com, September 24, 2021A Brooklyn federal judge has rejected an attempt by New York City educators to block a city mandate requiring all Department of Education employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
U.S. District Judge Brian M. Cogan of the Eastern District of New York said Thursday that the city’s vaccine mandate was a “rational policy decision surrounding how best to protect children during a global pandemic.”
The ruling, which addressed constitutional claims by a group of teachers, was the second this week allowing the DOE mandate to move forward, amid push-back from some teachers and staff.
In his decision, Cogan said that plaintiffs’ concerns about possible long-term effects from the vaccines may be valid, but noted that inoculation was one of the most “highly regarded” tools for minimizing viral spread.
“Although plaintiffs argue that there are other proven means of preventing the spread of COVID-19 in schools, among them frequent testing and mask wearing, it is not shocking for the city to conclude that vaccination is the best way to do so, particularly at a time when viral transmission rates are high,” Cogan wrote in a 12-page opinion.
The decision followed a state judge’s ruling on Wednesday, which lifted a temporary restraining order in a case brought by municipal labor unions, finding that they would be “unable to establish a likelihood of ultimate success on the merits.”
A spokesman for the New York City Law Department, which represents the city in civil litigation, said in a statement that “yet again, another court has cleared the way for a vaccine mandate at the DOE which is in the best interest of children and department employees.”
“The court has again recognized the authority of the Health Department to implement a mandate that is firmly grounded in science and the expertise of public health officials from across the nation,” the spokesman, Nick Paolucci, said.
An attorney for the plaintiffs did not immediately respond Friday to a request for comment.
The federal lawsuit included claims for due-process and equal-protection violations, citing the potential for adverse reactions and claiming that the mandate interfered with their right to pursue their chosen professions.
Here are the papers in the Federal case filed by the FG Legal Group: