New York Daily News: BROOKLYN, By Shanti Shahrigian – A group of Big Apple municipal workers opposed to the city’s vaccination mandate is asking a federal judge to halt thousands of firings expected Friday.
The workers argue in Brooklyn Federal Court that the mandate violates their “fundamental religious and constitutional rights” and subjected them to “heresy inquisitions” and “religious harassment.”
Plaintiffs including a NYPD officer, a FDNY rescue medic and employees of other agencies are expected to ask for a temporary restraining order Friday, when about 4,000 workers are set to be fired for refusing to get vaccinated.
The workers face a deadline to show they’ve gotten at least two shots of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines or one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Mayor Adams stuck by the mandate, created by his predecessor Bill de Blasio, on Thursday.
“We’re not firing them. People are quitting,” Adams said Thursday. “The responsibility is clear. We said it: If you’re hired, if you get this job, you have to be vaccinated. If you are not following the rules, you are making that decision.”
But the suit, led by a group called New Yorkers for Religious Liberty, Inc., argues that the mandate contains “unconstitutional conditions on employment.”
“Under the ex-Mayor’s openly discriminatory standard, people with personally held religious beliefs or unorthodox religious beliefs were … singled out for discriminatory treatment by the defendants even though their beliefs are sincere,” the complaint states.
Echoing a number of cops, plaintiffs including NYPD officer Dean Paolillo cited concerns over the use of fetal cell lines during COVID vaccine research.
“I … could never take any medications or vaccines that have a connection to abortion in their development and/or testing as it would be a grave sin against the Lord,” Paolillo said in a sworn declaration. “I cannot use products that use aborted cell lines in either developing or testing.”
Aborted fetal cell lines, or cloned copies of cells, are commonly used in medical research.
The suit also makes iffy claims about the vaccines, arguing that that they “blunt the severity” of infection — a widely accepted fact — but don’t stop transmission to others.
“Infections with the Delta variant in vaccinated persons potentially have reduced transmissibility than infections in unvaccinated persons,” the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated last year, noting more research was needed.
Previous lawsuits challenging the vaccine mandate have flopped in court.
Shant Shahrigian is a regular contributor to the Daily News. He was previously a staff politics reporter and an assistant city editor for the paper, and has also worked for outlets from the hyperlocal Riverdale Press to Germany’s international broadcaster, Deutsche Welle.
Top Feature Photo: A group of New York City workers protest the planned firings over vaccine refusal – Luiz C Ribeiro/for New York Daily News