Staten Island, NY . — On July 18 Attorney Sujata Gibson, working with Children’s Health Defense (CHD), will be seeking the first class certification for NYC workers denied religious accommodation from the City’s covid vaccination requirements. Oral arguments are scheduled to take place at noon in the Richmond Supreme Court in Staten Island, NY.
The case is DiCapua v. City of New York on behalf of fired NYC educators and includes the group Teachers for Choice as a named plaintiff. A peaceful rally is being planned in front of the courthouse at 11 am by the CHD New York Chapter.
The proposed class consists of all educators or employees of the New York City Department of Education (NYC DOE) who were denied reasonable religious accommodation from the City’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate.
“The DOE engaged in widespread and open religious discrimination in their implementation of the Covid-19 vaccine requirements.” Says Gibson. “Rather than waste the public’s resources clogging the courts with individual lawsuits, we need a ruling that will overturn these discriminatory policies for all impacted workers.”
In a case brought by many of the same plaintiffs with Gibson and CHD in federal court, Kane v. de Blasio, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals already held that DOE’s religious accommodation policies were unconstitutional. While resolution of the constitutional claims is pending in the Appellate Courts, plaintiffs were authorized to bring their statutory claims and seek certification as a class in New York State Court after the district court declined to exercise jurisdiction over their state claims.
Last month the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Christian postal worker who refused to work on Sundays due to his faith. SCOTUS created a new standard that erased the old “de minimis” standard which had been used for 40 years. According to Gibson, “the Supreme Court’s ruling directly impacts the teachers’ claims in federal and state court. The City wrongly applied the “de minimis” standard as an excuse to issue blanket denials of accommodation, not only violating the civil rights of their employees, but also ignoring the direct order of the federal court, which held that the City must provide “fresh consideration” that complies with federal, state and local statutory standards.”
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