Federal Judge Rules New York Must Provide Religious Exemptions to Vaccine Mandate

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that New York must recognize health care workers’ religious exemptions to the state’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, according to court documents.

U.S. District Judge David Hurd ruled on Tuesday that the mandate conflicts with “individuals’ federally protected right to seek a religious accommodation from their individual employers,” granting a preliminary injunction to the plaintiffs, according to court documents. In response to the vaccination mandate, 17 anonymous health care workers filed a lawsuit challenging the New York State Department of Health.

Hurd also placed limitations on the New York State Department of Health, stating that it “is barred from interfering in any way with the granting of religious exemptions from COVID-19 vaccination going forward, or with the operation of exemptions already granted,” court documents show.

The ruling follows New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s statement denying the legitimacy of religious exemptions during a briefing on Sept. 27. She stated that “there are not legitimate religious exemptions because the leaders of all the organized religions have said there’s no legitimate reason,” and that “we’re going to win that in court in a matter of days.”
New York City by Rodrigo Paredes is licensed under flickr Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)