Mayor Eric Adams is dropping New York’s mandatory COVID-19 vaccine mandate for public employees — but the nearly 2,000 workers fired for refusing to get the jab won’t automatically get their jobs back.
“With more than 96 percent of city workers and more than 80 percent of New Yorkers having received their primary COVID-19 series and more tools readily available to keep us healthy, this is the right moment for this decision,” Adams said in a statement released Monday.
“I continue to urge every New Yorker to get vaccinated, get boosted, and take the necessary steps to protect themselves and those around them from COVID-19,” Adams said.
But City Hall said the 1,780 now-ex-city employees let go for refusing vaccination requirements won’t automatically get their jobs back and instead will need to reapply.
A mayoral spokesman said the city will not provide back pay for the axed employees, but did not provide additional details.
A number of employees who lost positions in the NYPD, FDNY, Department of Education, Department of Health and other agencies filed lawsuits opposing the rule since the mandate was first announced in 2021. But they were hopeful of getting their jobs back with the same pay, seniority and benefits after hearing the mayor lifted the mandate.
Jairo Sosa, 37, who worked for 7 1/2-years as a firefighter before his “forced resignation,” said he would love to get his job back. He has a wife and three young kids ages 5, 3, and seven months old.
“It’s a great job. I love going out and serving my community. I was working in the same community I grew up in — Washington Heights,” Sosa said.
He was awarded a medal in 2021 after rescuing a 5-year-old girl.
“You get a medal one year then you get terminated the year after,” Sosa said.
But Sosa said he wants to learn more about the reapplication process before deciding whether to re-up with the FDNY.
“Do we go back to our old place of work? Do we get the same pay?” Sosa said.
He said there should be “no break in service. Everybody is back to work just like before we were forced into all these mandates — same pay, same conditions before all this.”
A former police officer, Thomas Sheehy, who was an 11-year veteran of the NYPD, told The Post he quit last March over the mandate and was forced to take a lower-paying job.
“I was against it. It was purely political. It was about control and obedience and I wasn’t having it,” Sheehy railed about the vaccine mandate.
The ex-Sixth Precinct cop is now considering a return to the job he “loved.”
“This is so very new to me, lots of thoughts are going through my head,” Sheehy said.
“Now I have to make a decision,” he said, adding that he assumed he’ll be able to recoup at least some backpay, whihc htge city is not offering.
Meanwhile, NYPD sources said that a literal poster boy for the department’s recruitment efforts, who was featured in a billboard ad for New York’s Finest was among the cops who was fired for refusing to get vaccinated.
A lawyer representing the fired workers said active litigation will continue, claiming the vaccination mandate was unconstitutional and his clients deserve back pay and damages after suffering financial and professional harm.
“All the plaintiffs have suffered substantial damages in the form of lost pay, lost medical coverage, and other harms as a result of the City’s unconstitutional conduct. The plaintiffs are entitled to a remand so that lower courts can determine how much the City owes them for its unconstitutional conduct,” said lawyer John Bursch, with the group Alliance Defending Freedom.
Bursch also said the terminated employees have a “negative letter” in their personnel file that may “prevent re-employment with the City or employment” and those records need to be stricken. He also said some teachers lost their instructional licenses during their dismissal that warrants redress.
There is also a legal threshold issue. He said the courts have to rule on the constitutionality of vaccination requirements once and for all because the city “could simply reimpose the mandate at any time.”
Another attorney in the case, James Mermigis, said, “We will continue to fight until everyone is reinstated and made whole.”