December 28th, 2021

// N.Y. Legal Source: New York City’s Stringent New Vaccine Requirements

New York employment litigation attorney Peter Glennon is available for comment on New York City's stringent new vaccination requirements for private employers due to the Omicron variant of the coronavirus that went into effect yesterday.

He weighs in below:

New York City is once again aggressively promoting vaccine mandates that may run afoul of its powers and possibly violate anti-discrimination laws. With its stringent new requirements that all on-site workers be vaccinated, the city is testing the limits of how far a vaccine mandate can go in the U.S., especially when the vaccine appears to mainly reduce the severity of the illness and not its spread. Courts are already looking closely at the federal mandate, so we'll soon see whether the city must scale back its ambitious plans to promote vaccination. Of course, next week’s administration change may alter these rules before the Supreme Court decides on President Biden’s mandate. 

The new requirements also raise questions about the city's Key to NYC program for customers of retail shops and restaurants, which currently limit the unvaccinated from going inside a restaurant for anything more than using a restroom or picking up takeout. With all employees required to be vaccinated, that raises the question of whether the limited “reasonable accommodations” options may be broadened to comply with disability laws for those who are unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons. 

All of this is happening against a backdrop of a worker shortage. If more stringent requirements force potential workers who have been hesitant to go ahead and get vaccinated, they could help. But if they end up leading more people to drop out of the workforce at a time when small businesses are already struggling to fill vacant positions, the requirements could lead to more collateral economic damage.


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